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IOC defends Monday’s removal of gay activist


IOC defends Monday's removal of gay activistVladimir Luxuria, center, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament and prominent crusader for transgender rights, is led away by friends to attend a women’s ice hockey match after posing for photos on the Olympic Plaza at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Luxuria was soon after detained by police upon entering the Shayba Arena. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday defended the removal of an Italian gay rights activist from a Sochi arena, saying she was “escorted from there peacefully” and not detained.

Former Italian lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria was taken away by four unidentified men in a car with Olympic markings as she tried to enter an arena Monday night for a women’s hockey game.

Luxuria, dressed in rainbow colors, had been walking around Olympic Park for nearly two hours, accompanied by a scrum of reporters. Most of the Russian spectators seemed clueless about the gay rights message and some approached her to take a picture, thinking she was a carnival character. (more…)

Most Norwegians don’t want 2022 Oslo Olympics


Most Norwegians don't want 2022 Oslo OlympicsAn architects drawing of the proposed Lillehammer Olympics Village Source: Oslo2022/Snøhetta Oslo AS

A clear majority of Norwegians do not want Oslo to host the Winter Olympics in 2022, a new poll by the market research group InFact has revealed, with as many as 81.7 percent of those in northern Norway rejecting the games. 

According The survey, which was published on Tuesday in the Nordlys newspaper, some 55.9 percent of people overall said that they did not think it would be good to host the Olympics in the capital.

The strongest opposition was in the north, where as many as 81.7 percent were against hosting the games, followed by Mid Norway, where 65 percent were against, and Western Norway, where 63,6 percent were against. (more…)

THE SOUL OF RUSSIA, ON THE ICE


SOCHI, Russia — In an arena filled with waving flags, the coronating presence of President Vladimir V. Putin, bouquets of tossed flowers and a whiff of scandal, Russia won its first gold medal Sunday as host of the Sochi Olympics, taking first place in a new team figure skating competition and reasserting its prominence in the marquee sport of the Winter Games.

The victory at the Iceberg Skating Palace brought a buoyant moment for the home country and a restorative achievement for a dominant figure skating team that had failed to win a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It was the first time since 1960 that Russia or the Soviet Union had failed to win gold in the sport, but it turned out to be a brief drought linked to the sporting tumult that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“It’s important because it is not an individual event but a team event, and it brings joy to the whole country,” said Tamara Moskvina, who has coached Russian pairs skaters to four Olympic gold medals. “Figure skating is our tradition. It combines technique and art, and Russia has great tradition in those fields.”

via THE SOUL OF RUSSIA, ON THE ICE – NYTimes.com.

US lawmakers see serious threat of attacks in Russia during Olympics


WASHINGTON – Top lawmakers from the US House of Representatives’ intelligence and homeland security panels on Sunday warned of a serious threat of attacks in Russia during the Winter Olympics, though US officials say the Olympic grounds are secure.

The Olympics formally opened on Friday in Sochi. Islamist militant groups based in the nearby north Caucasus region have threatened attacks during the Feb. 7-23 Games.

“I’ve never seen a greater threat certainly in my lifetime,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas.

“I think there’s a high degree of probability that something will detonate, something will go off, but I do think it’s probably most likely to happen outside of the ring of steel and the Olympic Village,” he said on “Fox News Sunday”.

Some 37,000 security personnel are on high alert in Sochi and U.S. officials on Sunday said cooperation has improved, though still not enough, between Russian and US intelligence authorities.

“We’re quite satisfied with the level of cooperation we have now,” the US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Janet Napolitano, head of the US Olympic delegation to Sochi and a former Homeland Security chief, also described the level of security at the Games as very good.

via US lawmakers see serious threat of attacks in Russia during Olympics | JPost | Israel News.

Gay ski jumper Daniela Iraschko-Stolz says protests aren’t worth it


Gay ski jumper says protests aren't worth itAustria’s Daniela Iraschko-Stolz soars through the air during a women’s ski jumping training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — An openly gay women’s ski jumper says protests against Russia’s law banning homosexual “propaganda” aimed at minors aren’t worth it because “no one cares.”

Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria, who is a gold medal favorite in the women’s normal hill, married partner Isabel Stolz last year.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to make protests here, no one cares,” she said after training Sunday. “I know Russia will go and make the right steps in the future and we should give them time.” (more…)

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