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Olympic Committee to remind athletes against protests in Sochi

Monday, December 9, 2013
Olympics

Kostas Tsironis, AP
Gay activists hold rainbow flags and placards as they protest at the steps of the Acropolis’ museum during an event ahead of the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame, in Athens, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The IOC is finalizing a letter to Olympic athletes reminding them to refrain from demonstrations or political gestures during the Winter Games in Sochi, including any protests against Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda.”

The International Olympic Committee executive board is expected to approve the instructions at its meeting in Lausanne on Tuesday. The letter will then be sent to the national Olympic committees that are sending athletes to the Sochi Games, which run from Feb. 7-23.

The memo will focus on Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter, which states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

“We will give the background of the Rule 50, explaining the interpretation of the Rule 50 to make the athletes aware and to assure them that the athletes will be protected,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“I know from my own experience, this is key,” added Bach, a former Olympic fencer who won a team gold medal for West Germany in 1976. “As an athlete you do not want to be confronted in the Olympic Village or the Olympic Stadium with any kind of political controversies.”

The IOC letter comes amid continuing Western criticism of Russia’s human rights record and the recently enacted law which bans promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. The issue has raised questions over what would happen to athletes who wear a pin or patch or carry a rainbow flag to show their support for gay rights.

The charter says the IOC can take action against — even expel — athletes who violate Rule 50, but the committee has said the rule would be “interpreted and applied sensibly and proportionately.”

“This is about the principles,” Bach said. “The principle is to protect the Olympic athletes to be drawn into political controversies. Then, you always have to decide on a case-by-case basis.”

Bach, who was elected IOC president three months ago, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi in October. He said Putin assured him there would be no discrimination against any athletes or spectators at the games.

“With regard to the law, he was as clear as he could be,” Bach told the AP.

The IOC leader met a week ago in Paris with Russian gay rights activists.

“This meeting for us was to listen but also to explain where our responsibility is on the one hand and, on the other hand, where our influence ends,” Bach said. “They understood the position now even better and they appreciated having this conversation. We agreed we will keep in contact.”

With the opening ceremony less than two months away, overall preparations for the Sochi Games will be among the top items on the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting. Local organizing committee chief Dmitry Chernyshenko is scheduled to report by video conference.

“They will be ready,” Bach said. “There is still some work to do. They know they are under pressure. The last 100 days are almost always the most pressing ones. I have full confidence that they will be ready.”

The IOC board will also hear from Brazilian organizers of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, whose preparations have been dogged by construction delays and concerns over water pollution. Rio organizing chief Carlos Nuzman, an IOC member, is in Lausanne to deliver the update in person.

The board will also consider the status of India’s national Olympic committee, which amended its constitution Sunday to avoid becoming the first country expelled from the Olympic movement since South Africa was kicked out more than 40 years ago for its apartheid policies.

Facing an IOC ultimatum, the Indian body agreed to prohibit officials charged with a crime from running for elections. The Indian association was suspended last December for electing tainted officials, notably secretary-general Lalit Bhanot, who spent 10 months in jail on corruption charges related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

It will be the first IOC board meeting chaired by Bach, who has been on a whirlwind global tour that included meetings with several world leaders.

Also scheduled Tuesday is a ceremonial handover of the keys to the IOC headquarters from former president Jacques Rogge to Bach. The event takes place at the renovated Olympic Museum, which reopens later this month after nearly two years of work.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Bach is taking the executive board on a four-day retreat to the Swiss town of Montreux for a “brainstorming” session to review a wide range of issues, including possible changes to the sports program, bidding process and age limit.

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54 more reader comments:

  1. I hope every single athlete breaks these rules.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:19pm
  2. THE OC failed during 1936 and here they are repeating the same stupid mistake less than 80 years later -_- idiots which get loads of money never learn

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:20pm
  3. Everyone needs to boycott the Olympics. .do not watch it on tv..do not buy any brands that support this atrocity

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:21pm
  4. EXACTLY!!!!!!!!

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:28pm
  5. Boycott the olympics now and forever, boycott the sponsors, boycott the athletes who go (especially GLBT ones who are traitors). First and foremost over everything Human rights come first. Without them sports and competition are meaningless unless all they are for is to make money.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:01pm
  6. consider it done

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:16am
  7. agreed

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 5:52am
  8. in other words “rules to not follow”

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:21pm
  9. remember this is a communist country its not america,free speach is limited!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:25pm
  10. YOUR POINT,, THINGS WON'T CHANGE IF PEOPLE DON'T SPEAK OUT,,,,,REMEMBER AMERICA

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:55pm
  11. BREAK THE RULES…screw the olympic committee!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:28pm
  12. what a bunch of IMBECILES (IOC)

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:31pm
  13. Boycott

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:35pm
  14. Blinded by money. People have spoken out, people have demonstrated and people have petitioned yet the IOC blindly rushes forward with these games. I am truly and utterly disgusted.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:40pm
  15. What’s the IOC’s letter? I’m going to send them a sternly worded missive suggesting they stop breathing.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:51pm
  16. Oh, wait, I forgot a part. First, they should have someone read them their own charter which makes it clear that Russia absolutely does not have the right to host the Olympics. THEN stop breathing.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:52pm
  17. THIS IS WHY A BOYCOTT IS SO IMPORTANT//IT IS NO LONGER FOR THE ATHLETES BUT THE POLITICAL INTENT.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:54pm
  18. Of course the IOC is warning athletes to STFU about inequality since the The Olympic Games elected a Nazi for their president http://www.timesofisrael.com/new-olympic-chief-heads-arab-german-trade-group-set-up-to-boycott-israel/

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:55pm
  19. BOYCOTT HE WINTER GAMES IN SOCHI,and the us corp. sponsors

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:57pm
  20. No To Homophobia At All Times.Thank you. Non A L`Homophobie En Tout Temps. Merci. Please-SVP Boycott Sochi Russia 2014.Thank you-Merci.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:07pm
  21. FUCK the IOC. Money is worth more than the blood of human beings? Really?
    They’re supposed to just play like normal and not think about how much they are considered ‘vile’ and subhuman in Russia? Seriously?

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:08pm
  22. Way to go IOC, hypocrites!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:14pm
  23. The Olympic committee is cowards. It’s not about politics it’s about humanity.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:23pm
  24. All the more reason to protest!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:24pm
  25. Political??? Olympics does not stand for humanity anymore!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:25pm
  26. Sickening. The IOC not only sits idly by while this is happening, but they also try to slap a gag order on athletes who might not be able to sit idly by, themselves. Just plain sickening.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:34pm
  27. Thank You, IOC, for reinforcing Russian homophobia. What happens when a victory kiss with one’s partner is interpreted as a “political gesture”? It’s the Russian government who have decided this is political. For me, this undermines the vision of the Olympics — the idea of physical competition determining the worth of the athlete, not who they sleep with. It makes me less likely to ever watch again. I’ll stick to the X-Games, thanks.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 4:45pm
  28. Tell the Olympics committee we in the United States and our citizens have the freedom to protest! If the committee doesn’t want protest from our athletes then cancel the games!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:00pm
  29. Go f*ck you self IOC you fucking c*nt

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:31pm
  30. The very fact that they have to warn against expressing dissent peacefully should tell everyone BOYCOTT SOCHI!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 5:33pm
  31. kissing Russian ass..shame on the IOC and America..

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:28pm
  32. Assholes!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 7:01pm
  33. The Committee should be protesting

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 7:11pm
  34. BOYCOTT RUSSIA…

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 7:21pm
  35. This article isn’t the first time I’ve heard the wimps at the IOC tell everybody to refrain from “political gestures”. Give me a fucking break! The Russian hetero-supremacist gov’t are the ones making this whole thing political, not us! If the IOC doesn’t want protests, then Russia’s gov’t needs to stop their crackdown on people who aren’t straight and not just sit idly by while LGBT people are tortured and murdered all over the place.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 7:53pm
  36. Like anything will happen. Russia is a fucked up to lib it.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 7:59pm
  37. I think it is time for us to say farewell to the Olympics it just sad it doesn’t fit it to the real world. Persecution games is more like it!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 8:00pm
  38. “If looks could kill they probably will in games without frontiers, war without fears”

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 8:23pm
  39. There will be protests, bet on it! And there should be!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 8:47pm
  40. GLBT around the world tell the IOC to shove it and then rotate upon it while hanging from the rings. FYI IOC your very multicolored flag is pro gay agenda hope you don’t get arrested for it!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 9:57pm
  41. I hope people do protest. You may have trained the last 4 years…but LGBT people have been slandered for way longer…

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:04pm
  42. What greedy suck-ups the IOC has. Shameful.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:06pm
  43. Boycott Sochi!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:34pm
  44. Because the IOC knows they’ve f•cked up, and they’re afraid of the backlash! Cowards.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:35pm
  45. Fuck the IOC – they are complicit in homophobia and have no right to tell the athletes shit – although I have no respect for any athlete that will participate in the 2014 Olympics.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:46pm
  46. Can we say freedom of speech and/or shut the committee up!!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:50pm
  47. I fucking hate closed minded people. please just let gay people compete in the olympics. just because they’re gay you wouldn’t let them? how about we do this to the straight people? Oh all the sudden is a fucking problem smh. i hate to be a part of this society.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:09am
  48. that for sure me boyctting the russian winter olympics

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:18am
  49. This seems so wrong. Being gay can be seen as a protest…wearing rainbow, wearing a ring with female/female symbols or male/male symbols could all be seen as a protest. Basically they are saying its wrong to be who you are. This upsets me so much :(

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:09am
  50. The U.S. needs to take military action against Russia for going against gay marriage

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:55am
  51. So instead of doing the right thing, they’re gonna side with Russia. Fine, see if I care. I won’t give a shit who wins or loses this years Olympics. Never really watched them in the first place.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 3:34am
  52. Complete BS. So they support discrimination. I will never watch them again.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 6:14am
  53. This may signal the end of the Olympics.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 9:10am
  54. boycott!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 10:33am