Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

National news

February 6, 2014

More Olympic-linked furor over Russia anti-gay law

(Continued)

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Wednesday the committee and the sponsors have been in constant communication about several issues in Russia, but he declined to describe the conversations when asked whether the sponsors wanted the IOC to make a specific statement about the law.

A coalition of 40 international groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, sent an open letter to the 10 top sponsors last week urging them to run ads promoting equality for LGBT people.

Human Rights Watch posted a video this week on YouTube of gay people in Russia being bullied, chased and beaten, compiled from footage the group said was uploaded by perpetrators. The video got more than 830,000 views in less than two days.

Aside from AT&T, DeVry University and Chobani, sponsors of the U.S. Olympic Committee who were contacted by The Associated Press shied away from explicit condemnations of the Russian law, while expressing support for diversity and opposition to discrimination. These sponsors included TD Ameritrade, Kellogg Co., United Airlines, BP PLC, Nike Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Hilton Worldwide.

"Our sponsorship of the USOC is about supporting Team USA, not engaging in political or policy debates," said Scott Dean, a BP spokesman.

The Russian law "is unaffiliated with our ongoing support of the Olympic movement," said Hilton Worldwide. "Our mission is to help athletes on their journey...fostering and promoting the values and spirit of the Olympics amongst our guests and members."

Citigroup cited its "longstanding support" for LGBT rights, and added that it backed the USOC's "ongoing efforts" to address the issue with the IOC.

------

AP reporters Oskar Garcia, Eddie Pells and Rachel Cohen in Sochi, AP cameraman Nicolas Garriga in Paris, and AP business writers across the U.S. contributed to this report.

Online: http://www.teamusa.org/Sponsors

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