Is French President Boycotting Sochi Olympics?
BY Sunnivie Brydum
December 16 2013 12:10 PM ET
French president François Hollande will not attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, though the foreign minister who announced the president's decision did not go into detail on the reason for Hollande's absence.
According to U.K. newspaper The Guardian, none of France's top officials will be present at the Games, which are set to begin in February. While The Guardian cites French criticism of human rights abuses in Russia, which passed a nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda this summer, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius declined to elaborate on the reasons his nation's leaders won't be in attendance.
Last week, German president Joachim Gauck informed the Kremlin that he would not attend the Sochi Games, after being vocally critical of Russia's "deficit of rule of law" and "air of imperialism." While Gauck, who holds the primarily ceremonial title of president, won't attend the games, German chancellor Angela Merkel — the acting head of government — has ruled out a boycott, agreeing with British prime minister David Cameron that the country's embattled LGBT population would be better served by the presence of supportive political figures than by their absence.
The deputy head of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, has said that she will not attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi either, according to the BBC.
Since the nationwide ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" in venues accessible to minors took effect in July, LGBT Russians and visitors have been arrested, beaten, and harassed with increasing frequency under the state-sanctioned homophobia. In advance of Russia's hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, President Vladimir Putin and numerous Olympic officials have promised that LGBT athletes and spectators will be safe during the games. The International Olympic Committee has said it is "completely satisfied" with those vague promises from Russian Olympic officials that there will be "no discrimination of any kind."