August 22 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has today received "strong" reassurances from the Russian Government that "everyone will be welcome" at Sochi 2014 regardless of their sexual orientation despite the introduction of the nation's contentious anti-gay law.
In a letter addressed to Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for next year's Winter Games, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak promised full compliance with the Olympic Charter.
"Russia has committed itself to comply strictly with the provisions of the Olympic Charter and its fundamental principles, according to item 6 of which 'any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement'," Kozak wrote in his letter to the IOC.
"The Russian Federation guarantees the fulfilment of its obligations before the International Olympic Committee in its entirety.
"In particular, legislation of the Russian Federation does not stipulate any restrictions or differentiation of the rights and responsibilities of citizens on the basis of sexual orientation.
"Discrimination against sexual minorities, just as any other discrimination, is expressly forbidden by the Constitution of the Russian Federation."
The response comes after IOC President Jacques Rogge warned that there should be no discrimination against gay athletes at the Olympics and requested further "clarification" on how the draconian new bill, which criminalises the promotion of "non-traditional" relationships, would affect those at Sochi 2014.
"The IOC is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation," Rogge said in a statement today.
"The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes.
"We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle."
Since being signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, the controversial anti-gay law has sparked international outrage, which included calls for a boycott of the Sochi 2014 Olympics and Paralympics.
Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko claimed earlier this week that the controversy is "an invented problem" by Western media.
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