SBD/January 16, 2014/Olympics

Italian IOC Member Blasts U.S. Decision To Include Gay Members In Sochi Delegation

Pescante said sending journalists to the host country serves to combat social issues
Senior Italian IOC member Mario Pescante "criticized the United States on Wednesday for including openly gay athletes in its official delegation for next month's Sochi Olympics," according to Andrew Dampf of the AP. Pescante said, "It's absurd that a country like that sends four lesbians to Russia just to demonstrate that in their country gay rights have (been established). The games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports supports daily." As head of the IOC's Int'l Relations Commission and a former IOC VP, Pescante said that he "will put forth a proposal at the IOC session in Sochi so that in the future when the Olympic truce is signed at the United Nations it also will have a section devoted to political protests." Pescante: "We've seen boycotts, concerns over Aborigine rights in Australia, the Tibet issue in China. It's enough already. There are always going to be issues wherever the games are held, but the best way to combat these issues is by letting the games unfold and sending thousands of journalists to these places to report on what is going on there" (AP, 1/15). Russia President Vladimir Putin today said that "no athlete would face discrimination at next month's Winter Olympics, hoping to ease international concern over a Russian law banning gay 'propaganda.'" Putin: "The Olympic Games will be held in full compliance with the Olympic charter, without any discrimination on any basis. ... We wish success to all the athletes." He added, "I am confident the Olympics will bring nations closer together and help strengthen friendship, trust and partnership around the world" (REUTERS, 1/16).
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