The U.N. General Assembly urged Moscow "to promote social inclusion without discrimination" amid outrage over the country's ban on gay "propaganda" among minors, according to REUTERS. Russia "triggered angry criticism and even calls to boycott the Sochi Games when it adopted in June a ban on homosexual 'propaganda' among minors." Critics denounced the law as "discriminatory and a curb on rights to free speech and assembly." U.S. delegate Elizabeth Cousens said, "Sport embraces all segments of society and is instrumental in empowering people with diverse backgrounds, while fostering tolerance and respect for all people no matter what they look like, where they come from, where they worship or whom they love." IOC President Thomas Bach "appealed for the autonomy of sport to be protected and strengthened." He said that responsible autonomy "meant respecting national laws that do not target sport." He also said that the IOC "was opposed to boycotts of any kind." Bach: "Boycotts are a fundamental contradiction to the spirit of sport, depriving it of the means to continue working for peace, mutual understanding and solidarity" (REUTERS, 11/7).
The Russian government is looking at ways to provide support for Sochi investors to avoid defaults on bank loans. The move is expected amidst fears that venues for the 2014 Sochi Olympics may not be completed properly and on time or could be abandoned after the Olympics are over. Later this month, the government will hold a special session aiming at working out extra measures to support Sochi investors, including restructuring their loans, subsidizing bank interest rates and extending tax privileges, the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported, quoting unnamed government officials. Over the last few months, some Sochi investors have approached the government to claim they were unable to service loans taken out for the construction of Sochi venues, which are potentially loss-making.
GOVERNMENT ON THE HOOK: Most of the loans for Olympic projects were extended by state-run Vneshekonombank. Of the total of 241B rubles ($7.45B) in loans, 165B rubles ($5.1B) have government guarantees. That means if the investors default on their loans to Vneshekonombank, the government will have to compensate the bank’s losses from the federal budget -- a prospect that the government apparently wants to avoid. Among investors in Sochi Olympics projects are Vladimir Potanin’s Interross and Oleg Deripaska’s BasEl. Both companies declined to comment.
Vladimir Kozlov is a writer in Moscow.
The Oslo 2022 committee said that the Norwegian city "will bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics." Already considered one of the favorites to host -- not least due to the success of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer -- the "bid won the support of more than half of the city's population" (55,1%) in a recent referendum (AFP, 11/7). ... A Soyuz rocket carrying the torch for the Sochi Winter Olympics "has docked with the International Space Station." On Saturday, two Russian cosmonauts "will take it on a historic first spacewalk" (BBC, 11/7). ... Astronauts on a six month stay on the Int'l Space Station "will share at least one experience with us terrestrials left down below." Thanks to quality communications equipment, the crew of spaceflight Soyuz TMA-11M "will be able to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi" (MOSCOW TIMES, 11/7).