MOSCOW (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach is confident that all athletes and visitors at the Winter Olympics in Sochi will be treated equally regardless of "race, gender or sexual orientation."
Bach said Wednesday he received new assurances from Russian President Vladimir Putin that gays will not be discriminated against in Sochi.
Preparations for the Feb. 7-23 games have been overshadowed by criticism of a recent Russian law outlawing "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors." Many worry the law may apply to gay athletes and visitors.
Bach, making his first visit to Sochi since being elected president of the International Olympic Committee last month, discussed the issue with Putin.
"All visitors travelling to Sochi for the games regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation will be welcomed here equally — this has been made very clear by the Russian authorities," Bach said. "The games themselves are open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media, and, of course, athletes. This is a principal pillar of the Olympic Movement that will be upheld in Sochi."
Human rights and gay rights groups have accused the IOC of not doing enough to pressure Russia to repeal the law. The IOC says it has no authority to influence laws in a sovereign nation.
Earlier Wednesday, Russian gay activists said Bach refused to meet with them while visiting Sochi.
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