Russia's law banning "gay propaganda" doesn't defy the charter of the Olympic Games, and so the winter event will proceed as scheduled in 2014 at Sochi, the International Olympic Committee announced on Thursday.
Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, who was in Russia conducting a final visit to Sochi before the Olympics, said the commission had in the past months considered and discussed the severity of the host nation's laws and what it could potentially inflict not only on the local athletes but also on those coming from overseas as well.
"The Olympic Charter states that all segregation is completely prohibited, whether it be on the grounds of race, religion, colour or other, on the Olympic territory," Mr Killy said in French during a news conference.
"That will be the case, we are convinced. Another thing I must add: the IOC doesn't really have the right to discuss the laws in the country where the Olympic Games are organized. As long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied, and that is the case."
He added Russia had sent the IOC written assurances that gay discrimination will not happen during the winter Olympic Games, scheduled on Feb 7 - 23, 2014.
As expected, gay rights activist immediately slammed the verdict.
"If this law doesn't violate the IOC's charter, then the charter is completely meaningless," Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, was quoted by Reuters.
Ironically, while the conference was being held, outside a group of activists were being whisked away by uniformed and plain-clothes Russian law enforcers.
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"The safety of millions of LGBT Russians and international travelers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completely neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world," Mr Griffin said.
In June, Russia enacted into law a legislation that bans the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors. Domestic as well as foreign gay athletes, even people who want to come to Russia to see the games, have expressed fears the laws may be used against them.
Mr Killy and his delegation was in Russia to personally inspect the rate of preparations the country had so far achieved for the event.
"Everything is very impressive."
"We often say that there is no time to waste as the clock ticks down to the opening ceremony, and this still stands true," he said.
"To see how far the local organizers have come over the last six years is quite simply remarkable - the competition venues are ready; the spirit of the Games is awakening here; and the athletes, spectators and all others who visit next February can expect a fabulous experience."
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