Olympics: IOC praises 'magnificent' Sochi facilities, untroubled by gay law

SOCHI, Russia (AFP) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday declared Russia's "magnificent" Olympic venues in Sochi were ready for the 2014 Winter Games, adding it was satisfied that a recent law on homosexuality passed by Russia did not violate the Olympic charter.

"Everything is really magnificent," said IOC coordination committee chairman Jean-Claude Killy at the committee's final conference before the grand sports event kicks off in just over four months in the southern resort city

"Sochi is not late by any means," the French ex-skier said, adding that only "details" remain to be completed and calling on Russian organisers to "use every hour that remains".

He also dismissed concerns concerning Russia's controversial law banning so-called "gay propaganda", which punishes people for disseminating information about homosexuality to minors.

"As long as the Olympic Charter is respected, we are satisfied," Killy said.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak insisted that there would be no discrimination at the Games but warned that homosexuals and heterosexuals could equally face consequences if the law was broken.

"If people with traditional orientation will propagate non-traditional sex among minors, they will also be held responsible, so one cannot talk about discrimination here," he added.

Foreigners found guilty of violating the law can not only be fined but face administrative arrest of up to 15 days and eventual deportation.

The controversial law has prompted a boycott of Russian vodka in the United States, criticism from pop stars including Madonna as well as a vocal Internet campaign for Russia to be stripped of its right to host the Games.

But Mr Kozak echoed the enthusiasm of the IOC for the preparations in Sochi, saying that "Russia... has met all of its obligations."

"Today we can confidently say that all of the responsibilities have been met, all doubts have been rejected, and there are no problems with the city infrastructure and modernisation of the whole city," he said.

Torrential rains have hit Sochi for several days in a row, swelling rivers and submerging some key roads, to the point where the Sochi airport earlier this week asked that travellers opt for the train to get to the city.

Authorities in the city even cancelled school on Wednesday, and flood sirens went off in many neighbourhoods, while several homes in northern Sochi were briefly evacuated.

The "historical" downpour served as "a fantastic test" for the infrastructure, Killy said of the weather conditions. "No damage, nowhere, whatsoever," he said.

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