President Vladimir Putin has once again moved to dismiss concerns over Russia’s anti-gay laws by saying that no athlete would face discrimination at next month’s Winter Olympics.
The Games are taking place in the Russian city of Sochi from 7 February.
“The Olympic Games will be held in full compliance with the Olympic charter, without any discrimination on any basis. Russia will be rooting for its own athletes of course, but we wish success to all the athletes,” President Putin said on Thursday in a speech to new foreign ambassadors.
“I am confident the Olympics will bring nations closer together and help strengthen friendship, trust and partnership around the world,” he added.
Downing Street denied it was because of Russia’s decision to implement anti-gay laws. A source said: “The PM believes in engagement. He doesn’t think that boycotts and grand gestures achieve much.”
Last weekend Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain will continue urging Russia to protect LGBT rights and suggested that openly gay sports stars could be included in the UK’s Olympic delegation.
However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office later played down the remarks about the delegation.
For the first time since 2000, the US will also not send a president, former president, first lady or vice president to the Winter Olympics.
Several days before, French President Francois Hollande announced he would not be attending the Games.
However, both President Hollande and President Gauck failed to state their official reasons for not attending.