Inside Lines: IOC put Putin lackey in his place over threat to free speech

 

The new International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, has flexed his muscles on the eve of the Winter Olympics by forcing the Russian hosts to back-pedal on their attempt to prevent athletes from expressing political views in press conferences.

Earlier last week Vladimir Putin's man in charge of Sochi 2014, Dmitry Chernyshenko, had contradicted Bach's assertion that competitors had the right to free speech at such gatherings, saying they would not be allowed to "express those views that are not related to the sport". But after Bach promptly made it clear that the IOC and not the Russians make the Olympic rules, Chernyshenko has retreated, claiming he was "misunderstood".

"Sochi 2014 are fully aligned with the position of the IOC," he acknowledged. Bach had explained that while protests on the medal podium are banned, "athletes enjoy the freedom of speech, so if in a press conference they wanted to make a political statement then they are absolutely free to do so."

Some surely will, particularly over the gay-rights issue, though whether any Britons are among them seems unlikely. So far none have joined the 50 current and former Olympians who have signed a petition urging Russia to repeal their widely condemned new anti-gay laws ahead of the Games. Among competitors publicly backing the campaign are the American snowboarding gold medallist Seth Wescott, the Canadian biathlete Rosanna Crawford and the entire four-man Australian bobsled team.

Significantly, the UK government are helping fund this and other gay-rights campaigns in Russia, with the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, saying: "It is the right thing to do".

Taking the piste

Channel 4's winter-sports reality show Jump seems to have left viewers and critics cold. There's no doubting the courage of the contestants and the hazards involved – Sir Steve Redgrave is now nursing a broken hand and badly bruised ribs.

Redgrave has sports cred, but the sight of so many C-list showbiz sorts pratfalling on skis and skates hardly whets the appetite for the real thing, which begins on Saturday and which the BBC must hope will be taken more seriously. So it seems surprising that they are supplementing their daily live coverage with a BBC 2 programme billed as a "comedy entertainment show... a fun take on a huge sporting event".

Hosted by QI regular Alan Davies, Apres-Ski will air on Fridays at 10pm. Davies promises "to take an entertaining look at the Games". Or in other words, take the piste...

More mouth from Fury

Heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury, whose grossly offensive tweeting has twice seen him hauled before the beaks at the British Boxing Board of Control, continues his disorderly conduct.

At a media conference in London last week to promote a proposed summer rematch with Dereck Chisora, he launched a typically foul-mouthed assault on the now-retired David Haye, who twice pulled out of their proposed fight with injuries, calling him "a f***ing b**** p****". However, even worse in my view was his mocking of the former world champion Vitali Klitschko. "Good riddance grandpa robot," he sneered in the direction of the brave Ukrainian who has abandoned the ring to fight for the freedom of his country.

Should Fury ever attain even a touch of the class, dignity and ability that Vitali and his brother Wladimir have shown inside the ring and out, he might learn the meaning of one word which eludes his intemperate vocabulary: respect.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible