Olympics:Carrion lays down law to future Games hosts

International Olympic Committee (IOC) presidential candidate Richard Carrion has said that in the future no city should be allowed to host the Olympic Games if they discriminate against people in any way.

The 60-year-old Puerto Rican banker - who is a leading candidate to replace Jacques Rogge when he steps down as IOC president on September 10 - sent a statement to AFP in response to the concerns expressed about legislation signed into law in June by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The new law punishes the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors but which activists say can be used for a broad crackdown against gays.

The law has aroused concerns among activists about whether Russia is fit to host next year's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the biggest sporting event it has held in its post-Soviet history, and even calls for a Cold War-style boycott.

"Looking ahead, a condition to getting the Olympics games in the future should be to make sure the city does not have laws that discriminate against people in any way, consistent with the Olympic Charter," said Carrion, bidding to become only the second non European to be IOC President.

Carrion, who was responsible for brokering the record $4.38billion (3.3 billion euros) broadcasting deal with NBC to have exclusive US coverage of the Olympics through to 2020, said he was confident that none of the Olympic athletes would fall victim to the legislation.

"We should use all the avenues possible for influence and diplomacy with Russian officials, so that this legislation will not create a problem for our athletes," he said.

"I am confident that the discussions going on now with the Russian authorities will help clarify the extent of the law and will ensure that our athletes will be protected."

Carrion, one of six men bidding to replace Rogge, said that sports was open to all regardless of their beliefs or sexuality.

"I strongly believe in equal rights, including the right to practice sport, for every human regardless of race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation," he said.

"The Olympic Games celebrate humanity through respect, friendship and excellence. And one of the deepest core values of the Olympic Movement is 'sports as a human right.' Nothing should ever stand in the way of that."

On Thursday Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko appeared to contradict assurances from the IOC last week that no athlete attending the games would be targeted by the law.

He said gay athletes were welcome to participate in the Games but must obey the new law banning "homosexual propaganda".

"The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors," Mutko told the R-Sport news agency.

"No one is banning a sportsman with a non-traditional sexual orientation from going to Sochi. But if he goes out onto the street and starts to make propaganda, then of course he will be brought to responsibility.

"As a sportsman, he should respect the law of a country," Mutko added.

"Come (to Sochi), but don't get young people involved, don't make propaganda. This is what we are talking about."

Foreigners found guilty of violating the law can not only be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($156, 114 euros) but face administrative arrest of up to 15 days and eventual deportation.

Russian officials rarely use words like "gay" and "homosexual" and prefer to use the phrase "non-traditional sexuality" to describe same-sex love.