President Vladimir Putin has said Russia’s top responsibility is to ensure ‘equal conditions’ for all the athletes at the Winter Olympic Games.
Speaking at his annual marathon news conference today (19 December), the Russian president has once again tried to play down the controversy of the ‘gay propaganda’ laws.
He said: ‘The main thing for us is the good organization of these competitions, the creation of equal terms for all athletes.’
The Olympics, to be held in Sochi in February, is being snubbed by a number of prominent leaders.
President Barack Obama has said in his place, he will send two openly gay athletes to be part of the US delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies in Sochi.
France and Germany are also not sending their presidents, with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also confirmed to not be attending.
While several LGBTI advocates and celebrities, like Lady Gaga and Stephen Fry, have called for boycotting the Sochi Olympics the majority of politicians, like UK Prime Minister David Cameron have said tackling human rights abuses is better served by attending the 2014 Games.
This past August the International Olympic Committee announced it ‘received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.’
This was later contradicted by several Russian ministers, who promised gay tourists and athletes in Sochi will be arrested if they disobey the ‘gay propaganda’ laws.