SPORTS

Gays At Sochi Olympics Won't Be Persecuted, But Must 'Leave Children Alone,' Says Putin

01/17/2014 02:20 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that Russia will welcome all athletes and visitors at next month's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi irrespective of their sexual orientation.

"People have different sexual orientations. We will welcome all athletes and all guests of the Olympics," Putin told foreign reporters in a televised interview.

Putin also downplayed the planned no-show at the Games of several key Western leaders, saying there was no need to mix sports with politics.

"Political ambitions related to how many came and where, they are absolutely inappropriate," Putin told foreign reporters in a televised interview. "The Olympics is not a competition of politicians."

US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French leader Francois Hollande will not attend the top sports event seen as Putin's pet project.

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