London: Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that gay and lesbian athletes would be welcome and would have nothing to fear at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Russia has been criticised over a new law banning `homosexual propaganda` towards people under 18, although a proposed boycott of the Games has gained little momentum.
According to the BBC, however, Putin assured Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that gay athletes and visitors would not face any prosecution in Russia.
Putin further said that Russia would do everything in their power to make sure that athletes, fans and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation.
The report mentioned that under the homosexual propaganda law, private individuals promoting `non-traditional sexual relations` to minors face fines of up to 5,000 roubles (100 pounds) while officials risk paying 10 times that amount, adding that businesses and schools could be fined up to 500,000 roubles.