International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said he welcomes discussions about the issue of Russia’s anti-gay legislation in the lead up to the Sochi Games, but the IOC cannot act as a “world government” to “impose measures on a sovereign state.”
Speaking in an AFP interview recently, Bach said it was positive that discussions about Russia’s notorious anti-gay “propaganda” law had taken place.
“When something came up, we took it up with organisers,” he said.
“These kind of discussions show the relevance of the Olympic Games. It shows how much interest there is in the world.
“The Games turn a focus on the country and we appreciate these kinds of discussions.”
However, Bach also complained that people misunderstand the role of the IOC when it comes to international politics, which he says does not have the power to act like a government or political organisation.
He said: “The IOC is not a world government that can impose measures on a sovereign state.
“People expect that the IOC can solve all the problems of a country… We have no mandate for this.”
He added that the obligation of the IOC was to ensure that “the Olympic charter is applied in the Olympic Games.”
“In this respect we have all the assurances from the president of the Russian federation and the government.”
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.”