Phil Bennion MEP petitions IOC for Sochi 2014 Athletes
Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion has received assurances from the International Olympic Committee that the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics must be open to all, without discrimination on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation. Following concerns in letters from constituents, Phil Bennion wrote to Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, over the new Russian law prohibiting information which "promotes non-traditional sexual relations" to minors.
In a letter of reply, the IOC says that the Games must be open not just to competitors, but also for spectators, officials, the media and anyone else connected to the Games. West Midlands region MEP Phil Bennion said:
"The new laws in Russia are worrying and depressing. I believe it is wrong to discriminate against people because of their sexuality."
The response from the IOC goes on to say that the organisation had received a number of assurances from the highest government level in Russia that the law will not affect people attending or taking part in the Games. Phil Bennion added:
"I am pleased that the IOC is taking this matter seriously. I have also written to the Russian Ambassador in London to raise my concerns and to ensure that those attending the Winter Olympics are free from discrimination."
The new law in Russia has provoked harsh international criticism ahead of the Games, including from the comedian Stephen Fry. The legislation, introduced in June, prohibits LGBT 'propaganda' in material made available to children. After it's introduction Russia has experienced an upsurge in homophobic vigilante attacks.