SOCHI, Russia President Vladimir Putin, seeking to defuse criticism over his treatment of gay people in Russia, said everyone will be welcome in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation" Putin told Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), on Monday.
Russia introduced a law banning "homosexual propaganda" among children, triggering angry criticism from the West and even some calls for a boycott of the Sochi games.
Critics have denounced the law as discriminatory.
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, writing Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Ed Osmond)