IOC should take Games away from hosts ignoring Charter - Wu

By Karolos Grohmann

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should take the Games away from future host cities which ignore its Charter and discriminate against specific groups of people, senior IOC member CK Wu said on Thursday.

Russia, host of the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics, is under mounting criticism after approving a gay law which critics say curtails civil liberties and discriminates against homosexuals.

"I would like to see cities, when given the Games, to make it very clear that there will be no kind of discrimination, regardless of race, nationality or sexual orientation," Wu, a member of the powerful IOC Executive Board, told Reuters in an interview.

"We have to prevent this kind of thing, because suddenly, now, we have to find a solution to this," said Wu, who is also a candidate for the IOC presidency.

"In future, anybody who refuses to follow this (Charter), we should remove the Games."

Russia passed the law which prohibits spreading "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" in June, sparking criticism from Western governments and leading to calls for a boycott of the Sochi Games.

The measure, popular with many Russians and with the powerful Orthodox Church, highlighted the more socially conservative course that President Vladimir Putin has charted in his third term.

Gay activists say that the propaganda law has increased discrimination against them and emboldened vigilante-style attacks.

"This time we have to find a mutually acceptable solution," said Taiwanese Wu, who also head the international amateur boxing federation (AIBA). "But we should not have this happen again."

IOC President Jacques Rogge has said Russia has offered "written and oral" assurances that the law would not affect athletes, officials and spectators at next year's Games.

But he said on Wednesday the IOC was powerless to do anything beyond that, given its restrictions as a guest in a sovereign nation.

"The IOC president has made it very clear that it is a sovereign state," said Wu, who is facing five other contenders for the top IOC job in elections next week. "Sport is human rights."

The athletes' human rights are enshrined in the Olympic Charter which forbids any form of discrimination.

But Russian assurances have been far from clear about what would happen if athletes spoke out in favour of homosexuals during their stay at the Russian Black Sea resort during the February 7-23 Olympics next year.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)