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Olympics: Sochi Sets Up Protest Zones in City

A view of the Bolshoi Olympic stadium and accommodation complex in the Adler district of Sochi, Russia, Sep. 29, 2013.
The city of Sochi, preparing to host the 2014 winter Olympics in February, will have specific protest zones for demonstrators to air their opinions, the International Olympic Committee was told on Tuesday.

“We welcome the announcement of the [Sochi] organizing committee that in Sochi there will be protest zones that will be established for people who want to demonstrate against something,” IOC President Thomas Bach told reporters after a progress report by the Russian Games organizers.

“They [protesters] will have the opportunity to do so in special protest zones,” he said.

Russia has been under mounting criticism over its human rights record, especially after passing an anti-gay propaganda law this year which critics say curtails the rights of homosexuals.

“This was under discussion with the IOC for quite some time,” Bach said. “It was announced to us today and it [zones] will be located in Sochi.”

On Sunday, German president Joachim Gauck became the first European head of state to announce he would not be attending the Games at the Russian Black Sea resort. Some athletes have said they will protest in Sochi.