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LONDON — U.K. actor, writer and comedian Stephen Fry has called on the International Olympic Committee and British prime minister David Cameron to fight for a move of the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, to another host nation due to new anti-gay laws in the country.
In an open letter on his blog, Fry argued that Russia was “making scapegoats of gay people” and that holding the Winter Games there would hurt the image of the Olympics just like it did when the 1936 Summer Games were held in Nazi Germany.
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Fry said he was making his plea “in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act, which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth.”
In June, Russia passed legislation that fines people who discuss homosexuality to people under the age of 18, among other things. President Obama and representatives in Hollywood, such as Milk writer Dustin Lance Black in a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter, have been among those criticizing the legislation.
“It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village,” Fry wrote in his blog post. “An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 is simply essential.”
He added: “At all costs [Russian president Vladimir] Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilized world.”
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Fry suggested staging the Winter Games elsewhere — “in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like.”
The BBC reported that a Cameron representative said the prime minister had voiced concerns about the situation of the LGBT community in Russia in a meeting with Putin in June.
The BBC also quoted the International Olympic Committee as saying that it “respected Mr. Fry’s opinion” and that “sport is a human right and should be available to all, regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation.”
But it added: “The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”
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