German President boycotts Sochi Olympics in Russia

German President Joachim Gauck is boycotting the Winter Olympics and will not travel to Sochi, Russia next year. Der Spiegel reports that Gauck took the decision in protest against human rights violations and the harassment of Russian opposition political figures.

The dpa news agency says presidential spokeswoman Ferdos Ferudastan confirmed the move on Sunday. Gauck's office could not immediately be reached for further confirmation.

Gauck, an outspoken critic of Russia's human-rights record, is yet to visit the country since taking office in March 2012. A planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2012 fell through, apparently for scheduling reasons.

Gauck travelled to the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in London last year.

The head of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation is in Toronto promoting the first gay sports tournament in Russia, which will be held after the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Organizers of the Open Games hope to bring attention to the struggles of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered.

Questions remain about how Russian authorities will enforce the controversial anti-gay laws that came into effect earlier this year. Protests against those laws have turned violent at times.

Adapted from Standartnews