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IOC Demands Clarity Over Russia's Antigay Law, Amid Sochi Preparations

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets IOC President Jacques Rogge in May
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets IOC President Jacques Rogge in May
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it wants more clarifications from Russia on the antigay law that is overshadowing preparations for next year's Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

IOC President Jacques Rogge, speaking at a news conference in Moscow, said that despite having received assurances from organizers, there were still "uncertainties" that needed further clarification.

"Well, when the law was [enacted], we have received oral reassurances emanating from [Russian Deputy Prime Minister] Mr. Dmitry Kozak, who is in charge of the organization of the [Olympic] games in Sochi," Rogge said. "We asked for a written confirmation of these reassurances. We've received it yesterday. We've studied it this morning. But there are still uncertainties and we have decided to ask for more clarification as of today. So we are waiting for this clarification before having a final judgment on these reassurances."

The controversial law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay-pride rallies.

Rogge reaffirmed the IOC's commitment to a discrimination-free Olympics.

"The Olympic Charter is very clear. It says that sport is a human right and it should be available to all regardless of race, sex, or sexual orientation," he said. "And the games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, so our position is very clear."

The controversial legislation caused a major international outcry and prompted calls for a boycott of the Sochi games.

Earlier this week, British actor Stephen Fry, a gay-rights activist, called for Russia to be barred from hosting the games over what he called the "barbaric" law.

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said in a statement to state-owned RT television "that boycotts do not solve anything but simply punish Olympic athletes."

Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko defended the law on August 8, saying, "As for that law, it is not aimed at restricting the rights of citizens, irrespective of their nationality, faith, or any other inclinations. This law is aimed at banning propaganda for minors. No one is going to infringe on anyone's rights."

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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