France - Russia - 
Article published the Monday 16 December 2013 - Latest update : Monday 16 December 2013

Hollande won't attend Sochi Olympic opening

Protest in Berlin ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympics
Protest in Berlin ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympics


French president François Hollande will not go to the winter olympics opening ceremony in Russia, nor will any top officials, said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday.

Although Fabius didn't give any reasons, human rights groups hope Hollande's absence signals a boycott over Russia's human rights policy.

Russia has been criticised for its anti-gay legislation as well as the way workers recruited to build the Sochi sporting venues have been treated.

Russian gay rights advocates have called for increased pressure on the International Olympic Committee ahead of the 2014 winter games in Sochi, declaring that homophobic violence is on the increase.

Last week, people rallied outside the Russian embassy in Berlin, calling on Russian authorities to lift anti-gay laws. 

Meanwhile EU Justice commissioner Viviane Reding and German President Joachim Gauck have announced that they will not go to the games, which run from 7 - 23 February.

Brice Hortefeux, of France's opposition UMP and interior minister during Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency, criticised Hollande's decision not to attend the ceremony. "It is essential in the interests of France to firmly relaunch dialogue with Russia", he said.

In 2008, former president Sarkozy attended the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, setting aside concerns about China's human rights record.

tags: France - Gay rights - Homophobia - Human rights - Olympic Games - Russia
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No, what he actually said was

No, what he actually said was that he was not going to "compete" in the Sochi Olympics. It was a translation mistake.