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IOC: There will be no discrimination against gay athletes in Sochi

Oct. 30, 2013 at 3:07 PM   |   Comments

SOCHI, Russia, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Wednesday there will be no discrimination against gay athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

Recent measures passed by the Russian legislature making it a crime for a person to publicly acknowledge he or she is homosexual as a show of support for same-sex rights led to concerns people attending the Games who are gay could be arrested.

"All visitors traveling to Sochi for the Games regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation will be welcomed here equally. This has been made very clear by the Russian authorities," said Bach, who became IOC president in September.

"The Games themselves are open to all, free of discrimination and that applies to spectators, officials, media and, of course, athletes," Bach said. "This is a principal pillar of the Olympic Movement that will be upheld in Sochi."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is in Sochi with the IOC delegation, gave Bach assurances there will be no discrimination against the LGBT community, the IOC said in a release.

Bach is in Sochi to check on preparations as the countdown clock reached 100 days until the Feb. 7 opening of the Games.

"The progress the organizers have made since winning the right to host the Games seven years ago is tremendous, but more importantly, they have delivered on their commitment to place the athletes at the heart of these Games," Bach said. "I can confidently say that all the athletes will be warmly welcomed and they will be suitably impressed with the athletes' villages and competition venues. We can expect to see some terrific performances in February as a result."

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