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Gay rights remain controversial for 2014 Sochi Olympics

January 16, 2014|By David Wharton
  • "The Games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports supports daily," Italian IOC member Mario Pescante says.
"The Games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that… (Dominic Favre / Associated…)

As the 2014 Sochi Olympics draw near, Russia's anti-gay legislation continues to be a hot-button issue.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Olympic Committee declined to take an official stance on the laws, saying it would defer to the Olympic Charter, which bans political demonstrations by athletes and coaches at the Games.

On Wednesday, an International Olympic Committee member was quoted by Italian media as saying that President Obama's decision to include openly gay athletes on the U.S. delegation to Sochi is "absurd."

Obama named tennis great Billie Jean King, hockey player Caitlin Cahow and figure skater Brian Boitano to the group.

Mario Pescante, an Italian IOC member, spoke out at an IOC meeting in Milan, Italy.

"The Games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports supports daily," Pescante was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency and Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Russian legislation threatens prosecution for anyone who promotes "nontraditional sexual relations" in the presence of minors. Critics worldwide have spoken out against the law, saying it limits free speech and effectively bans events such as gay rights parades.

There has been speculation that athletes might protest by wearing pins or painting their fingernails in rainbow colors.

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