Thomas Bach, IOC President, Slams Politicians Over Sochi Olympics
by STEPHEN WILSON
Posted: 02/04/2014 2:30 pm EST Updated: 02/04/2014 9:59 pm EST
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach accused world leaders Tuesday of using the Sochi Olympics as a political platform “on the backs of the athletes,” and of snubbing the games without even being invited.
Three days before the opening of Russia’s first Winter Games, Bach used a hard-hitting speech to call out politicians for using the Olympics to make an “ostentatious gesture” serving their own agendas.
Without naming any individuals, Bach’s comments appeared directed at President Barack Obama and European politicians who have taken stands against Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda” among minors.
The Olympics, Bach said, should not be “used as a stage for political dissent or for trying to score points in internal or external political contests.”
“Have the courage to address your disagreements in a peaceful direct political dialogue and not on the backs of the athletes,” he said at a ceremony attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “People have a very good understanding of what it really means to single out the Olympic Games to make an ostentatious gesture which allegedly costs nothing but produces international headlines.
“In the extreme, we had to see a few politicians whose contributions to the fight for a good cause consisted of publicly declining invitations they had not even received.”
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