A resolution will be found to the current row over Russia’s new controversial anti-gay law that is overshadowing the build-up to Sochi 2014, International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Ser Miang Ng claimed yesterday at Forman’s Fish Island in London.
Protests have been growing since the law was introduced in June by President Vladimir Putin, with some groups calling for a boycott.
But Ng, one of six candidates to replace Jacques Rogge as President of the IOC next month, revealed that negotiations led by Jean-Claude Killy, France’s triple Olympic skiing champion who now heads the Coordination Commission for Sochi 2014, are already taking place to ensure that the controversy does not wreck the Games.
“The IOC has made a very strong point that they will be against any action that would discriminate against participants at the Sochi Games, whether it’s officials, media, visitors or the athletes,” Ng said during a short to celebrate the first anniversary of London 2012. “I believe there will be a good solution to that. I believe that this issue will be resolved to the satisfaction of all.”
As befitting his role as a diplomat, which has seen him serve as Singapore’s Ambassador in Hungary and Norway, a position he still holds, Ng adopted a more conciliatory tone than one of his Presidential rivals, Puerto Rico’s Richard Carrión, who last week called for cities with discriminatory laws to be prevented from hosting the Olympics.
“In such cases where diplomacy is at work, we should limit to the effectiveness of the quiet diplomacy,” he said.
“But I can say that Russia has invested a lot into the Games and definitely they want to have a great success.
“This is the common objective of Russia and the IOC.
“I’m sure that we’ll make every possible effort to make sure this will be the case.
“I would not want to pre-empt the outcome of the negotiation.
“It’s more effective to make sure that both sides have room to view the issue, and with six months to go, you definitely do not want to make any move that would jeopardize the Games.
“We want to make sure that we create a great environment for the athletes to perform during the Games.”
If Ng is successful and elected as President of the IOC at its Session in Buenos Aires on September 10 ahead of Carrión and other rivals, Germany’s Thomas Bach, Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka, Switzerland’s Denis Oswald and Taiwan’s C K Wu, then he will inherit the problem.
If a solution is not found, calls for some countries to miss the Olympics are sure to mount.
“I think the idea of a boycott is misplaced,” said Ng.
“We have learned from history that the ones who really suffer will be the athletes who have spent years preparing for the Games.
“I do not think we have the right to deprive them of the opportunity to take part in the Games.
“We have to spare no efforts in making sure that the discussions, the negotiations will go on to make sure the issue is resolved to the satisfaction of both sides.”
Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.