The International Olympic Committee has officially given its stamp of approval of Russia to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Sochi Games will go on as planned after the IOC was "convinced" that the country’s law banning gay propaganda toward minors does not violate the anti-discrimination clause in the Olympic charter, reports Laura Mills of the Associated Press.
The country and government of Russia has received heavy international criticism from various groups due to the host nation’s recently passed law that bars “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” There is concern that this statute could have an impact on gay participants and spectators at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"If this law doesn't violate the IOC's charter, then the charter is completely meaningless," Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement (per the AP). "The safety of millions of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Russians and international travelers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completed neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world."
Anticipating protests and demonstrations from gay rights activists during the Winter Games, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning all rallies in Sochi from Jan. 7 to March 21.
Dmitry Kozak, deputy prime minister in charge of Sochi Olympic preparations, refuted claims that the law in question infringes on the rights of gays. He stated that it’s to protect children and involves no ulterior motives:
Kozak argued the controversial law doesn't affect any one group in particular: "Regarding this law, if people of traditional sexual orientation spread propaganda of non-traditional sex to children, then they will also be held accountable. So there is simply no need to talk about discrimination."
Thursday marked the last of the IOC’s 10 visits to Sochi prior to the event, which starts on Feb. 7. It will be Russia’s first time as host of the Winter Olympics, as the country narrowly beat out Salzburg, Austria and Pyeongchang, South Korea for the rights back in 2007.