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Volume 6 No. 212


Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that "the controversy over Russia's law banning the promotion of homosexuality is an 'invented problem' focused on by Western media," according to Justin Palmer of REUTERS. The law, which parliament passed in June, bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies. At a news conference before the start of the final day of the 2013 IAAF World Championships, Mutko said, "We don't have a law to ban non-traditional sexual relations. The mass media in the West have focused much more on this law more than they do in Russia." Critics of the anti-propaganda law have said that "it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals." Mutko said that "the law was intended to protect Russian children." Mutko: "We want to protect our younger generation whose physicality has not been formulated. It is a law striving to protect rights of children -- and not intended to deprive anybody of their private life" (REUTERS, 8/18).

UNDER PRESSURE: ITV reported the IOC "is facing calls to remove pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva from her ambassadorial role after she spoke out in support of Russia's controversial laws on homosexuality." Isinbayeva "criticised two Swedish athletes for making statements against Russia's new law, which makes it illegal to give under-18s information about homosexuality" (ITV, 8/16). The AFP reported Isinbayeva "attempted to play down the furore provoked by her anti-gay remarks, saying she was 'misunderstood' and was opposed to any discrimination against homosexuals." The 31-year-old issued a statement saying she was "opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality." She said she "may have been misunderstood" as English is not her first language (AFP, 8/17).

An IOC official said that the organization has "told India­ it must bar all corruption-­tainted officials from its local Olympic body if it wants to return to the Games after being banned last year," according to the AFP. An Indian ­Olympic Games official said that the IOC has "sent a 43-page draft constitution that needs to be adopted" by the suspended Indian Olympic Association before its next elections­ in September. The official said, "We have received the IOC draft and we will look into it." The draft, accompanied by a letter from IOC Head of Institutional Relations Jerome Poivey, "stressed the need to keep corrupt officials out of sports administration" (AFP, 8/17). The PTI reported the IOC "also issued a veiled threat of possible action to the IOA, reminding it that it had been under suspension and so should act responsibly to meet the conditions requested by the world body." The IOC letter said, "As per the IOC provision, the constitution would prevent any person charged by a court in India for any serious criminal-corruption offence (whose situation would, therefore, tarnish the reputation of the Olympic Movement) from being eligible for election within the IOA" (PTI, 8/17). The PTI also reported Indian Olympic shooter Abhinav Bindra applauded the IOC's "decision to not change its stance on barring chargesheeted persons" from contesting Indian Olympic Association elections. Bindra said that it was "heartening to see the world body keen on cleaning up sports in the country." Bindra: "As an athlete, I am extremely pleased that the International Olympic Committee is willing to clean up Indian sports" (PTI, 8/17).

IOC President Jacques Rogge's replacement "will be voted on three days after the 2020 Olympic host site is determined" on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires. Until then, "however, Rogge will lead [the IOC]. His influence could be essential in the selection of the winning city." According to statutes, the IOC can have a maximum of 115 members. Rogge "chooses the members of the last two groups [of 15 apiece] in addition to three wild cards (invitations) among the 15 athletes with a right to vote." Rogge, who will not vote, "could have an influence on more than 20% of the voting IOC members in Buenos Aires" (AS, 8/18). ... Olympic Council of Asia President and IOC member Sheikh Ahmed Al-Sabah "snubbed media reports that he is a supporter for Germany's Thomas Bach in the IOC presidential race" (XINHUA, 8/18). ... Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes "has called on Brazil's federal government to disband a public body created to oversee planning for the 2016 Olympics." Paes said on Saturday that the Olympic Public Authority "had become redundant, just days after the resignation of the organization's president Marcio Fortes" (XINHUA, 8/17).