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Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been accused of discrimination against homosexuals by his critics, said gay athletes and visitors would be welcome in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

On a visit to the host city with Thomas Bach, the Head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Putin stressed that all would be welcome at the games:

“We are doing everything – our organisers, athletes and fans – so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation,” Putin said.

A new Russian law banning homosexual propaganda among minors has cast a shadow over the lead-up to the Olympics. There had been concern that the legislation could apply to gay athletes and visitors to Sochi.

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