French President Francois Hollande has become the most high profile leader to snub the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.
“I wish these Games a lot of success, but there are no plans for top French officials to go,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio, although he refused to give a concrete reason for not attending.
Last week, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding announced on her official Twitter account that she would “certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation.”
Attempting to dismiss concerns about LGBT athletes attending February’s Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi, President Putin last month declared he was against “hatred” towards people of a “non-traditional sexual orientation” – whilst continuing to support the country’s homophobic legislation.
A federal bill banning gay “propaganda” was signed into law by President Putin in June.
It prescribes fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18 – ranging from 4,000 roubles (£78) for an individual to 1m roubles (£19,620) for organisations.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has warned athletes against making political gestures at the Winter Olympics, but plans to set up protest zones for them to “express their views”.