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Shaun White discusses issues surrounding Sochi Games

Melanie Dinjaski, Yahoo!7 Updated October 24, 2013, 7:27 am
Sochi Olympics: Shaun White discusses issues surrounding Games

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Snowboarding superstar and two-time Olympic gold medallist Shaun White opened up about controversial issues surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

One such issue, which has garnered international attention, is a law passed in June that outlaws the promotion of homosexuals to minors in Russia.

Protests have taken place around the world with athletes set to compete at Sochi afraid to show their support for gay rights.

Speaking to Yahoo!7 Sport from his Australian training facility in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, White shared his thoughts on the build up to the Games in March.

“It’s a tough scenario,” White, arguably the biggest name in winter sports, said.

“You get these athletes that are just as competitive and they’re living their lives and they’re pouring every single thing into this competition.

“And just that added pressure of being alienated, I’m just not a big fan of that.

“It’s not like it’s up to me to change the rules or anything, but I just feel for them on that front.”

The lack of clear definition of ‘promotion” means the law applies to anything from marches, to rainbow flags, to discussing homosexuality with or around those under the age of 18.

The law states that anything depicting a "distorted notion of social equivalence of traditional and nontraditional sexual relationships” is banned.

Authorities have assured the public that those competing in the Games would not be affected, though human rights groups have called on the International Olympic Committee to ensure the safety of LGBT Olympians after Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko confirmed athletes’ behavior would in fact be scrutinized.

“An athlete of non-traditional sexual orientation isn’t banned from coming to Sochi,” Mutko said in August.

“But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable.”

If the law is violated, guilty parties could cop a fine, be arrested and even be deported.

IOC president Jean-Claude Killy said the law does not conflict with the Olympic Charter that states “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

In accordance with the new law, ‘Pride House’, a place that has hosted LGBT people, their family and friends since the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, will also not feature at Sochi.