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Olympics: Anti-gay laws must not affect Sochi

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has insisted the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi must remain open to all despite the Russian government's controversial anti-gay laws.

"The International Olympic Committee is aware that sport is a human right and must be accessible to all, regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation," the 71-year-old told Sunday's edition of German newspaper Tagesspiegel.

"The Games themselves must be open to all, this applies to spectators, officials, journalists and, of course, the athletes."

After 12 years in office, Rogge will be replaced as IOC president next month when elections are held at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

But the Belgian said there can be no place for discrimination at any Olympic Games.

"The IOC will continue to work to ensure that the Games take place without discrimination," Rogge added.

"We would oppose, with all our might, any movement that threatens this principle."

In June, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law against "gay propaganda" which punishes the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors.

Activists say the law can be used for a broad crackdown against gays and there are fears it could be used against participants at the Sochi Olympics.

It has sparked calls for a boycott in some quarters and Russian officials have said all athletes will have to obey the law at the Games.

But Rogge has said he has reassurances from "the highest level" that the Sochi games, which run from February 7-23, will take place without discrimination against homosexuals.

"The IOC has commitments from the highest authorities in Russia that this legislation will not affect anyone who attends the Games or takes part in them," added Rogge.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130818/olympics-anti-gay-laws-must-not-affect-sochi