Bach pays tribute to Volgograd bombing victims

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 4, 2014 at 8:25 am •  Published: February 4, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach paid tribute Tuesday to the victims of the recent suicide bombings in southern Russia that killed 34 people and heightened security concerns for the Sochi Olympics.

Bach spoke at a ceremony in the athletes village to urge compliance with the "Olympic Truce," a symbolic resolution urging warring parties to cease hostilities during the games.

"We remember and grieve for the innocent victims of conflict, and especially the recent victims in Volgograd," Bach said. "Our presence here today is a rebuke to those whose motives and goals stand in sharp contrast to the spirit of harmony and global solidarity at these games."

An Islamic militant group from the North Caucasus region claimed responsibility for the back-to-back bombings in late December in Volgograd, about 640 kilometers (400 miles) east of Sochi, and threatened to strike the Olympics.

Russia has mounted a massive security operation to guard the games, which open Friday and run through Feb. 23. Tens of thousands of military and police personnel have been deployed, along with warships, drone aircraft and anti-missile batteries.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in November calling for a global truce during the Sochi Games. Similar resolutions have been passed going back to the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

"We are not naive," Bach said. "We know our limits."

The IOC leader said the Olympic Village is a symbol of peace.

"Men and women from different backgrounds, different cultures, different religions and different perspectives live side-by-side in harmony," he said.

Bach's use of the term "different perspectives" could be seen as a reference to sexual orientation. The buildup to Sochi has been overshadowed by an international outcry against a Russian law banning gay "propaganda" among minors.

Activists and some politicians called for a boycott of the games over the issue.

"We must never let politics or other outside forces spoil this spirit," Bach said.

Among those attending the ceremony was Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva, who is serving as the "mayor" of the Olympic Village in the coastal cluster of venues.

Isinbayeva made headlines in August at the world athletics championships when she condemned homosexuality, saying Russians have "normal" heterosexual relations. The next day, she said her comments in English may have been misunderstood and that she is against any discrimination.



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