By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 09 2013 3:25 PM ET
Responding to calls from activists to secure written guarantees that LGBT athletes and visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, will be safe, the International Olympic Committee said Friday that it is seeking further "clarification" from Russian officials, reports BuzzFeed.
The IOC previously said it had received "assurances" that LGBT athletes and spectators would not be punished under Russia's harsh law imposing fines and jail time for anyone who disseminates so-called "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations." But earlier this week, LGBT sports organization All Out delivered more than 300,000 signatures to the IOC's Swiss headquarters on a petition demanding the IOC take a firm stance against Russia's discriminatory laws.
Today, the head of the IOC confirmed that Russian officials have provided repeated "assurances" that the propaganda law will not impact the Olympics, but also noted that the IOC is not yet convinced, according to BuzzFeed.
"We have received all reassurances emanating from Mr. Dmitry Kozak, who is in charge of the organization of the Games in Sochi," IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters Friday, according to Reuters. "We asked for written confirmation of these reassurances. We received them yesterday, we have studied it this morning, but there are still uncertainties and we have decided to ask for more clarification as of today. So we are waiting for this clarification before having final judgment on these reassurances."
All Out was encouraged by the IOC's response. “This is the strongest and most direct statement we have received from the International Olympic Committee," said All Out executive director Andre Banks in a statement. "It shows the IOC is listening to the global outcry against these laws and demanding real answers, not propaganda, from the Russian government."
At least two Russian lawmakers have said that the government doesn't have the authority to suspend its anti-LGBT policies during the Sochi Olympics. Last week, the Russian sports minister said that any athlete who "goes into the street and propagandizes" will be "held accountable," but he backtracked on that statement on Thursday, saying that "all rights will be protected" during the 2014 Winter Games.