Russia says no sign of Sochi Winter Olympics boycott
Russia on Friday said it did not have confirmation of a single country boycotting next year’s Sochi Winter Olympics despite a furore over an anti-gay law and vowed to hold one of the best Games ever.
Speaking to the Russian lower house of parliament, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that no country had definitely announced a boycott.
Some Western rights activists have called for an international boycott of the games after President Vladimir Putin in June signed a controversial law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors.
The law’s critics say that it is so loosely worded it can be used to ban any gay pride event on the pretext that it could be viewed by children.
“So far we do not know of anything, except a statement by one country, and even in that case, the International Olympic Committee has no such information,” Mutko said, quoted by the R-Sport news agency.
It was not immediately clear which country he was referring to, although some in political foe Georgia have raised the possibility of its sportsmen pulling out of the games.
“Applications are coming in. All the countries are seeking to come to Sochi,” the minister added.
Mutko told lawmakers that Russia was “full of determination to hold big and, we can say, the best Olympic Games” in February next year.
For Russia, the Sochi Olympics will be the biggest sports competition since the break-up of the Soviet Union and a crucial test of its ability to host a world-class event ahead of the 2018 football World Cup.
The build-up has been marred by soaring costs for constructing stadiums and infrastructure and accusations of corruption and causing environmental damage to the Black Sea coastal resort.
After Russia passed the law banning promotion of homosexuality to minors, Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro made a mild protest by painting her nails in rainbow colours while competing at the Moscow World Athletics Championships in August.