IOC dismisses Sochi Games gay law concerns

The chairman of the IOC Co-ordination Commission for 2014 Winter Olympics said he was "pleased with the progress" at Sochi

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said a Russian law banning "homosexual propaganda among minors" does not breach the Olympic charter.

Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC's Co-ordination Commission, said the IOC did not have the right to discuss the host country's laws.

He spoke on a visit to Sochi in Russia, which he said was on schedule for a "fabulous" Games in February.

Rights campaigners said the IOC "had abandoned the gay community".

Russia, as Winter Olympic host, has come under criticism over the legislation - passed in June - which forbids "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors". Gay athletes and visitors to the games have voiced concern that the laws may be used against them.

The Kremlin says the law is aimed at protecting children and does not infringe on the rights of homosexuals.

Mr Killy said the IOC had received written assurances from Russian officials there would be no discrimination.

"The Olympic Charter states that all segregation is completely prohibited, whether it be on the grounds of race, religion, colour or other, on the Olympic territory," he said. "That will be the case, we are convinced. As long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied, and that is the case."

Chad Griffin of advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said: "If this law doesn't violate the IOC's charter, then the charter is completely meaningless.

"The safety of millions of LGBT Russians and international travellers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completely neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world."

Buildings in the Rosa Khutor Alpine skiing venue centre in the mountain cluster in Krasnaya Polyana outside the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, 25 September 2013. The IOC's Co-ordination Commission says local organisers have come far in the last six years.
Buildings in the Rosa Khutor Alpine skiing venue centre in the mountain cluster in Krasnaya Polyana outside the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, 25 September 2013. Alpine skiing events are to be held at the Rosa Khutor centre, still under construction outside Sochi

After completing its tenth and final inspection of the sporting facilities, the IOC commission said it was pleased with the ongoing construction ahead of the games.

Sochi was on schedule but "there are just a few things to be done", said Mr Killy.

Flash floods hit the Black Sea resort earlier this week but Russian officials said the flooding was not a cause for concern.

"All the new Olympic facilities have been built in accordance with strict seismic safety, weather protection and geological protection guidelines," a Sochi 2014 spokesman said. "All venues have proper mudslide and landslide protection."

Mr Killy said there had been "no damage anywhere whatsoever" and that the Olympic venues were "magnificent".

"To see how far the local organisers have come over the last six years is quite simply remarkable," he said.

"The competition venues are ready; the spirit of the Games is awakening here; and the athletes, spectators and all others who visit next February can expect a fabulous experience."

The projected cost of US$51bn (£32bn) makes Sochi the most expensive Olympics yet.

Observers describe Sochi as an enormous building site, with unfinished hotels and debris from construction scattered along the Black Sea coast.

Skating events are due to take place in venues along the shoreline in a former residential area.

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