Outgoing president Jacques Rogge has conceded the International Olympic Committee can do little to influence Russia’s anti-gay laws ahead of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law in June making it illegal to give under 18s information about homosexuality. The move has been widely condemned and has led to calls for a boycott of next year’s event.
Rogge, speaking in Buenos Aires in his final solo news conference as head of the IOC, said: “We have received some oral and written assurances about the fact the Russian Federation will respect the Olympic charter and no negative effect will occur for people attending in or participating in the Games.
“But one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”
Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva defended the new law before collecting her gold medal at the World Championships in Moscow last month.
She later blamed her poor English for her controversial statements and insisted she is opposed to discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.
Nevertheless, Rogge admitted the IOC would now be examining her role as an Olympic ambassador.
“This is something we will consider in due time,” said the Belgian.
Rogge was also asked about the progress made ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which has been dogged with delays over construction.
He said: “There is a lot of infrastructure projects where the construction has to be speeded up.
“We are optimistic that everything will be ready for the test events, but we should not forget that time passes very quickly.”
Rogge has been in office for 12 years but a successor will be chosen on Tuesday from six candidates.
Asked if he had enjoyed his spell in charge, the 71-year-old said: “Not always. Was it exciting? Definitely. Was it a privilege? Of course it was, but you have good and bad moments.
“Overall, the fact I could describe six Olympic Games and two Youth Games as being successful is the biggest reward I can have.”
The full IOC will vote on Saturday on the host city for the 2020 Olympics, a three-way contest between Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul.