Sochi Winter Olympics gets underway today
With unprecedented scrutiny over Russia’s anti-gay laws, the Winter Olympics in Sochi begins today.
The opening ceremony starts at 15.30 GMT. The run up to the Games has been overshadowed by Russia’s position on LGBT rights.
Some LGBT rights campaigners have urged a boycott of Sochi in protest at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s introduction of laws banning “homosexual propaganda”.
Many governments instead are using diplomacy to get their position across to Russia.
In a significant move the White House confirmed that no senior US official would be attending the Games.
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.
Someone who did state her reasons for not attending was EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. She 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.”
Sports and Equalites Minister Helen Grant will also travel to Sochi.
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Russian leaders have all attempted to play down fears that athletes and spectators could be prosecuted for speaking out on LGBT rights.
Reiterating last month’s comments by President Vladimir Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak this week warned gay people to “leave the kids alone.”
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