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Obama: Russian anti-gay laws have no place at Winter Olympics

August 07, 2013|By David Wharton
  • President Obama appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Tuesday where he shared his concerns about Russia's new anti-gay laws potentially being enforced during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
President Obama appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"… (Mandel Ngan / Getty Images )

President Obama has added his voice to a growing chorus of international leaders and sportsmen concerned that Russia's new anti-gay laws could be enforced at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The laws ban "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," making it a crime to openly discuss gay rights and relationships where minors can overhear.

"I think [Vladimir] Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work," Obama told Jay Leno during an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Tuesday night. "And I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn't tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently."

The International Olympic Committee has said the laws will have no influence on anything that happens during the Games but Russia's sports minister seemed to contradict that in recent comments.

Obama said: "If Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam, and people's sexual orientation shouldn't have anything to do with it."

A major track-and-field official also weighed in on Wednesday.

It would be good for Russia to see people with "alternative lifestyles, and this may serve as an impetus for them to reconsider their views instead of just living in an isolated society," IAAF Deputy General Secretary Nick Davies told the Associated Press.

The IAAF will hold its world championships in Moscow this month.

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