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Maurer: Sochi Olympics boycott 'would be mean'

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Swiss President Ueli Maurer. Photo: Federal Chancellery
10:25 CET+01:00
Swiss President Ueli Maurer has said that he will attend the Russian Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 despite other world leaders' decision to boycott the event in protest over a recent Russian anti-gay law.

Boycotting the Winter Olympic games in Russia would be “mean”, according to Switzerland’s president Ueli Maurer, who on Sunday said that he would attend the event.

The comments, made to SonntagsBlick, come in spite of the fact that other world leaders have chosen not to attend the event in February in protest against a recent anti-gay law in Russia which prohibits the "promotion" of homosexuality to under-18s.

While it was reasonable for Russia to be criticized during a UN conference, “it would be mean” to do so at a sporting event, Maurer told the paper, adding that “sport should not be politicized”.

Asked whether he thought that a boycott by the Swiss Federal Council could send out a message, Maurer said: “Well, we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere anymore, right? Not to any Islamic country because we have other legal concepts, and not to the United States because of the death penalty.” 

“If Russia has a different attitude towards homosexuality that doesn’t suit me, then I have to accept that,” he added.

Maurer, who is also Head of the Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports, will be attending the event as Switzerland’s Sport’s Minister, according to RTS.

The event will also be attended by Didier Burkhalter, who will take over from Maurer as President of the Swiss Confederation in January.

Leaders who have said they will not attend the event include French President François Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck.

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American President Barack Obama has also said he will not attend but for “scheduling reasons”.

Reacting to German President Joachim Gauck’s decision to boycott the event in February, Maurer told SonntagsBlick: “It’s simpler for me, I’m not a clergyman.”

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