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Demands grow for return of Winter Olympics to Vancouver

Demands were growing on Wednesday for withdrawing the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi and staging them in Vancouver again.

CBC News cited Foreign Minister John Baird as saying Russia's new anti-gay law was "hateful" and "could incite violence."

Global TV reported that an online petition to move the games had been signed by 47,000. When The Tyee checked at about 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, the total was over 64,000.

On The Huffington Post, gay British actor Stephen Fry published "An Open Letter to David Cameron and the IOC," comparing Sochi to the Berlin Olympics of 1936: "An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world."

On Twitter, Sochi Olympics was attracting hundreds of tweets -- almost all of them anti-Russian.

Meanwhile, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass quoted Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak:

"There will be no discrimination based on sexual orientation during the Olympic Games, before or after them. They are not allowed by law," he said.

Kozak also believes that calls to boycott the Olympics following the adoption of the Russian law which bans propaganda of homosexual relations among minors were "merely private opinions."

He has received "official clarifications from law enforcement agencies and the Justice Ministry regarding the application of this law."

"No one should have any concerns, people can live their own private lives and expresses advantages and attractiveness of their lifestyle among adults. The main point is to stay away from children," Kozak said.

He noted that if such propaganda targets children, then "this is an administrative offence" that is punishable by law with a fine of around 4,000 rubles.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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