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Olympic officials say athletes are free to speak out

Olympic officials say athletes are free to speak out
Mark Adams, the IOC's director of communications, conducts a press briefing Sunday in Sochi, Russia. (Srdjan Suki / EPA)

SOCHI, Russia — Olympic officials reiterated Sunday that athletes will be free to voice their opinions at news conferences during the 2014 Sochi Games.

Freedom of speech has become yet another hot-button issue at this 17-day global competition because of Russia's controversial anti-gay law.

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Earlier, an organizing committee official said the International Olympic Committee's charter prohibits athletes from making political comments. But IOC spokesman Mark Adams said that isn't true.

"Athletes are perfectly entitled to free speech," Adams said.

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That could open the door for remarks about the Russian legislation, which criminalizes discussion of gay rights in the presence of minors. It has drawn worldwide criticism.

Australian officials said no limits have been placed on what their athletes may talk about.

"In terms of expressing your views, not only do we allow, we encourage," chef de mission Ian Chesterman said at a news conference.

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