The Director General of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has categorically ruled out moving the Sochi Winter Olympics to another country over Russia’s so-called gay propaganda ban in a letter to Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne.
In the letter, which has been obtained by GSN, the IOC’s Christophe De Kepper said it was impossible to move the games at such a late stage.
‘Moving the Olympic Games to another location is something that is not being discussed,’ De Kepper wrote.
‘Organising the Olympic Games is a seven-year process and a complex exercise for any Organizing Committee. Any suggestion to move one addition of the Games to a city that previously hosted them is unrealistic and unfeasible for many reasons.
‘To give you just one example, the athletes’ rooms in the Olympic Village in Vancouver have been converted into apartments and have become home to hundreds of families. Finding another location to accommodate the athletes would be impossible six months away from the Games. There are many more technical, financial and security reasons that make such a proposal unfeasible.
However De Kepper told Milne that the IOC was continuing to express its concerns to the Russian Government about how openly gay athletes and spectators would be treated by authorities during the Games.
‘The IOC agrees with you that the Olympic Games should be free of any kind of discrimination and I can reassure you that we work hard to make this a reality at each edition of the Games,’ De Kepper wrote.
‘However … the IOC cannot influence national legislation and has to respect the law of any host country. In regard to Sochi 2014, the IOC is currently in close discussions with the highest government level in Russia and has received a number of assurances that the Games can take place without any form of discrimination, but we are continuing the dialogue with the Russian authorities on this important topic.’
Senator Milne told GSN she was unhappy with the IOC’s response to her concerns.
‘I’m certainly not satisfied with the response but it is exactly as expected,’ Milne said
‘We may have reassurances that the games will be free from discrimination but their decision is based entirely on logistics: we’re essentially being told it’s too hard to move the games regardless of the appalling reports we’ve heard out of Russia in recent times.
'How high a consideration should this kind of discrimination be for the IOC in the choice of location for the games? Much higher than this I’d say.
‘Given the seven year lead time for a decision, what priority did the IOC place on the responsibility under their own charter to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement?
Milne said she would ask the IOC for further clarification on the issue.
‘I intend to write back to ask the IOC how it incorporates this principle into its decision making, or is it now just window dressing and determined by geopolitics,’ Milne said.