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SBD Global/August 12, 2013/Olympics

BOA Chair Coe, British PM Cameron Dismiss Calls For Sochi Olympics Boycott

BOA Chair Sebastian Coe spoke out against a boycott of the Sochi Games.
British Olympic Association Chair Sebastian Coe "has rejected calls" for a boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympics in the wake of Russia's new anti-gay propaganda laws -- calling it a "ludicrous proposition" and insisting that boycotts do not work, according to Sean Ingle of the London GUARDIAN. Coe said that "there would definitely be no boycott by the British team in Sochi." Coe: "I don't think [boycotts] achieve what they set out to do. They only damage one group of people, and that is the athletes. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, but not an issue that is one of a boycott." Coe said that "he believed sport brought people together and could lead to dramatic change." Coe: "I am a profound believer that the relationships developed through international sport are often in the infancy of social change" (GUARDIAN, 8/10). The GUARDIAN also reported British actor Stephen Fry urged British PM David Cameron to support protests about Russia hosting the 2014 Olympics over concerns about anti-gay laws passed in the country. Fry, writing in an open letter on his website, compared the situation to the decision to hold the 1936 Berlin Games in Nazi Germany and said President Vladimir Putin "is making scapegoats of gay people." Fry: "An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential." Cameron's comments "follow similar remarks" by U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama said on Friday, "I do not think it is appropriate to boycott the Olympics. Nobody is more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation" (GUARDIAN, 8/10). SKY NEWS reported Fry said that despite his original request, he accepted that the Winter Olympics could not be moved, "but he had made the call because he wanted to draw attention to the plight of gay people in Russia" (SKY NEWS, 8/11).

TRANSLATION ISSUE: The BBC wrote IOC President Jacques Rogge "has asked Russia to explain how its new law on gay propaganda might affect next year's winter games." Rogge: "We don't think it is a fundamental issue, more a translation issue." Rogge said that there were still "uncertainties" despite written assurances received from Sochi organizer Dmitry Kozak. Rogge: "We are not clear about the English translation of the Russian law and we want clarification of this translation to be able to understand what has been communicated to us" (BBC, 8/9).
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Olympics, United Kingdom, Russia

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