In the face of heavy criticism of Russia’s human rights history, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has announced that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will deliver a keynote speech addressing the issue of anti-gay laws before the Winter Games begin.
According to Associated Press, Bach announced on Monday that Mr Ki-moon would be the first secretary general to address the situation of Russia’s anti-gay laws before the IOC.
“The secretary general has accepted the invitation to attend the IOC session and deliver a keynote address,” Mr Bach told reporters in Sochi.
In a statement on Friday, Mr Ki-Moon said: “The participants in the Sochi Games may carry the flags of many nations, but they come together under the shared banner of equality, fair play, mutual respect and non-discrimination.”
The IOC, which has observer status at the United Nations, previously dismissed calls for a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics during a UN debate.
Thomas Bach replaced Jacques Rogge as IOC president in September last year.
In the first board meeting he chaired as president of the IOC, Mr Bach announced that zones would be put in place at the Winter Games for ”people who want to express their opinion or want to demonstrate for or against something.”
Last year, in an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia address delivered by Ki-Moon, the secretary general announced that LGBT rights were critical for building “a world of true freedom and equality for all”.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who stood alongside Mr Ki-Moon on the importance of defending LGBT rights, slammed the IOC for “putting their head in the sand” over Russia’s mistreatment of gay people at a UN event last year.