Sochi 2014 "fully aligned with position of IOC" they claim after forced to back-pedal on free speech ban

Thursday, 30 January 2014
By Duncan Mackay

Sochi 2014 have "clarified" comments made by President and chief executive Dmitry Chernyshenko about athletes being able to protest during press conferences at the Winter Olympics ©Sochi 2014January 30 - Sochi 2014 have been forced to back-pedal on comments made by its top official after he contradicted a claim by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach that athletes would be able to express their political beliefs in press conferences.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and chief executive of Sochi 2014, had appeared to claim a statement made by Bach earlier in the week that athletes would be allowed to make their political views clear at press conferences without falling foul of the Olympic Charter was wrong. 

Chernyshenko had claimed athletes would not be allowed to "express those views that are not related to the sport at the press conference room."

The Russian has now claimed he was misunderstood. 

"The Sochi 2014 Organising Committee would like to clarify comments attributed to Dmitry Chernyshenko yesterday concerning athletes being able to express themselves during press conferences," Sochi 2014 said in a statement released via the IOC.

"Sochi 2014 are fully aligned with the position of the International Olympic Committee.

"Mr Chernyshenko simply meant that athletes are free to express themselves at a press conference - but of course they cannot use a press conference to make a demonstration or protest - similarly, they cannot use any Olympic venue to demonstrate."

Bach had warned earlier in the week that any protests on the medal podium but "athletes enjoy the freedom of speech so if in a press conference they wanted to make a political statement then they are absolutely free to do so".

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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