By Duncan Mackay

French President Francois Hollande will not attend Sochi 2014, it has been revealed ©AFP/Getty ImagesDecember 15 - French President Francois Hollande and his officials will not attend Sochi 2014 in what is being interpreted as a protest against Russia's human rights record, it was announced today.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed the decision on French radio but offered no explanation for the move.

The decision to hold the Winter Olympics in Russia has been criticised in France due to concerns about human rights abuses and a law passed in June that bans "gay propaganda" which critics say discriminates against homosexuals.

"There are no plans to attend," Fabius told Europe 1 radio, referring to Hollande and himself.

"Top French officials have no plans to be there."

German President Joachim Gauck's office announced last week that he would not be attending the Games and the Government's Human Rights Commissioner praised Gauck's decision as a "wonderful gesture".

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who is himself German, denied that the decision was linked to any kind of protest over Russia's human rights record. 

But European Union Commissioner Viviane Reding last week announced she would not travel to Sochi 2014 because of Russia's treatment of minorities.

Up to 40 world leaders are expected to attend the Games, Sochi 2014 President and chief executive Dmitry Chernyshenko has claimed.

Poland, which often has strained relations with Russia, has vowed to send a delegation, but it will not include Prime Minister Donald Tusk and may not feature President Bronislaw Komorowski.

Georgia, which fought a war with Russia in 2008, has said it will send athletes to Sochi but no Government officials.

First Lady Michelle Obama represented the United States Government at London 2012 ©Getty ImagesFirst Lady Michelle Obama represented the United States Government at London 2012
©Getty Images

The United States have  claimed that it will send a Government delegation but it is unlikely to include President Barack Obama.

Obama also did not attend Vancouver 2010 or London 2012, the other Olympics to have taken place since he became President. 

Vice-President Joe Biden headed the American presence at Vancouver 2010, while First Lady Michelle Obama was present for London 2012.

"There will be a presidential delegation, that's 100 percent," US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said.

"His wife opened the London Olympics, and it happens that sometimes [the delegation] is former advisors or a famous person connected with Obama.

"But there's a discussion still going on about who will head it."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
December 2013: Russia to establish protest zones during Sochi 2014, Bach reveals
December 2013: Georgia Prime Minister confirms athletes will be at Sochi 2014 but no Government officials