Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Sochi 2014: Putin gets Blatter boost

January 22, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has warned that boycotting the Sochi Games would prove counterproductive.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has warned that boycotting the Sochi Games would prove counterproductive.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FIFA president Sepp Blatter warns against boycott
  • Swiss says boycott would be a form of "surrender"
  • Blatter says Brazil 2014 World Cup "misused as platform for political disputes"
  • Protestors have voiced opposition to Russia's anti-gay laws

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and his vice-president, Joe Biden, won't be there.

As a matter of fact, neither will the heads of state from France or Canada.

But the good news for Russian President Vladimir Putin is that FIFA president Sepp Blatter will be at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

So far only Lithuania's president, Dalia Grybauskait─Ś -- an outspoken critic of the Russian government -- has openly said that she is boycotting the games for political reasons.

The Winter Games have been bedeviled by allegations of corruption leading to cost overruns and Russia's attitude towards homosexuality

Gay culture alive in Sochi, Russia
W.H.: Delegation's gay athletes no snub
King: Gay Olympians should wave flag

However Blatter, who heads world football's governing body and is a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), believes threats to skip the Games over Russia's anti-gay laws would be counterproductive.

Gay rights activists have been protesting against the law which was passed in June 2013 which prohibits talking about homosexuality in front of children.

The law has been widely criticized by Western leaders who have called it archaic and discriminatory, leading to politicians from around the world deciding to snub the Games.

But Blatter, whose own organization is facing criticism for holding the 2014 World Cup in Brazil amid protests and domestic unrest says the opportunity for dialogue outweighs a boycott.

Read: Russia's 'anti-gay' law pushes gay community into shadows

"These two events (Sochi and the World Cup in Brazil) have one thing in common: they have both been misused as a platform for political disputes," he said in his column in FIFA's weekly magazine.

"In the case of the Winter Olympics, this dispute is coming to a head with threats to boycott the Games.

"Such a boycott would change nothing. On the contrary, it may be interpreted as a refusal to establish a dialogue on the issue, as was the case with boycotts of the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 or in Los Angeles in 1984.

White House skipping Sochi Olympics
Gay Olympian stands against Russian laws
Former gay Olympian: Don't boycott Sochi

"I believe that such a major event presents a perfect opportunity to strike up conversations and cultivate contacts."

Read: Make Olympics in Russia the gayest ever

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already stated that no athlete would face discrimination at February's Games while protestors will have designated zones in Sochi to make their protests.

Blatter, the man who infamously said that racism on the pitch could be settled by a handshake, believes that by traveling to Sochi, it will allow issues such as homosexuality to be discussed in front of a larger audience.

"It is also likely that unpleasant issues will be addressed, because FIFA's fight against discrimination does not end with the anti-racism campaign," he added.

"We must fight every form of social exclusion. Anyone who decides to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi will be surrendering on this important issue, just as anyone running away from a problem will never be able to resolve it.

"This reason alone is why it is important for me to travel to Russia."

Read: Is Russia about to pass another anti-gay law?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
The moment that Team GB's Mo Farah won the 10,000 meters was a wonderful collision of electricity.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
His blistering pace and larger-than-life antics made him the king of the track in London, and bolstered his claims to be a "living legend."
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 0944 GMT (1744 HKT)
Disappointment for Nigeria's Muizat Ajoke Odumosu, who came last in the 400m hurdles final, London 2012 Olympics.
The Olympics are generally won and lost long before the opening ceremony cauldron is touched by fire.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 0738 GMT (1538 HKT)
Fans of the home side, Team GB, wave Union Jack flags during the Olympic Games
CNN's Richard Quest believes the London Games will be regarded as having brought the Olympics concept home.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Strategist Alastair Campbell says he never imagined London 2012 would be quite the triumph it turned out to be.
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Award-winning director Danny Boyle celebrates the best of British music in London 2012's Olympic Closing Ceremony.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
From Usain Bolt's record-setting achievements to an unexpected Ugandan gold, London 2012 has provided a wide array of highlights.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 0305 GMT (1105 HKT)
CNN's Amanda Davies recaps the London 2012 Olympics from the opening ceremony on July 27 to the finale on day 16.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Mo Farah and Usain Bolt celebrate their success at the London 2012 Olympic Games by copying each other's
It's been just over two weeks since the Queen parachuted into London's Olympic Stadium, her apricot dress flapping in the breeze.
August 15, 2012 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
When the world's top marathon runners bid to win Olympic gold, they would do well to draw inspiration from one of the greatest athletes in the history of track and field.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Team GB supporters with their faces painted in Union Jack designs at the Olympic Stadium in London.
Alastair Campbell always thought London 2012 would be a success, but never imagined it would be quite the triumph it has turned out to be.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Adrien Niyonshuti is unlikely to win an Olympic medal, and he will do well to even finish his event, but his story is surely one of the most inspirational.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
The colors of the Olympic Rings at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, August 2012.
Olympic fever has cheered up London and made it a more welcoming place, but will optimism be one of the legacies of the Games?
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Wojdan Shaherkani's Olympic debut was short, but sweet -- the Saudi judoka said competing at the Games was
London 2012 is the first Olympics to feature women in every national team, with Jacques Rogge hailing a "major boost for gender equality."
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
An impoverished South Korean gymnast has not only struck Olympic gold, but also reaped a $444,000 donation in a veritable rags to riches tale.
August 9, 2012 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
Britain's hero Jessica Ennis is set to cash in after winning heptathlon gold, but the poster girl of the 2012 Olympics says fame is not her motivation.
August 8, 2012 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
China is rallying around fallen hurdler Liu Xiang after he failed to make it past the first-round heat for a second consecutive Olympics.
August 3, 2012 -- Updated 1930 GMT (0330 HKT)
The first woman to win Olympic gold almost died in a plane crash, but remarkably returned to run again for the U.S. in 1936.
August 7, 2012 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Don Paige could not bear to watch the race he knew he could win. The 1980 Moscow Olympics were the death of a dream for many athletes.
August 4, 2012 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
Ricardo Blas Jr
While Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt grab the headlines, little-known athletes from around the world keep alive the original spirit of the Olympics.
Athletes spend years eating the right foods ... and then must resist the free fast food in the Olympic village. How do they do it?
ADVERTISEMENT