The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has moved to quash fears of discrimination at Sochi 2014 following the passing of an anti-gay bill in Russia’s Lower House of Parliament last week.
The state Duma passed the “non-traditional relationships propaganda” law by a unanimous vote, which could see tourists deemed to be “promoting homosexuality” arrested and deported.
Meanwhile, a survey revealed that 85 per cent of Russian’s were opposed to same-sex marriage.
American figure skater Johnny Weir (pictured), a 2008 world bronze medallist; Canadian two-time Olympic ice hockey champion Sarah Vaillancourt ; and Dutch long track skater Ireen Wüst, also a two-time Olympic gold medallist, are among the most prominent openly gay and lesbian winter sport stars and the bill has sparked fears that LGBT athletes will not be welcome in Russia for next year’s Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Last year a judge in Russia blocked plans to open a Pride House in Sochi during the Olympics and Paralympics, claiming it would offend “public morality”.
However, the IOC was keen to reinforce its status as an “open organisation”.
“The IOC would like to reiterate our long commitment to non-discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games,” a spokesperson told insidethegames.
“The IOC is an open organisation and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games.”
Although the legislation is not law yet, it is expected to be passed in the Russian Senate and be legal by the end of the month.