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Zhurova, the 2006 Olympic speedskating gold medalist, urged activists not to use the Winter Games as a platform for protests.

“For the spectators it is more important who wins than whether he or she is homosexual or not,” she said. “This doesn’t matter. I’m sure there will be no problems.”

Tuesday’s ceremony began in embarrassing fashion for the hosts. As Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak prepared to speak, the plastic lectern collapsed onto the ground.

Bach drew laughs when he said: “We can see that sport can break down walls this morning.”

Members of the IOC’s executive board toured the Olympic Village, which will accommodate about 2,200 athletes along the Black Sea coast. Two other smaller villages are located in the mountain cluster above Sochi.

Bach chatted with athletes, grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria and played table tennis in the recreation room.

“The village is really magnificent,” he said. “What the athletes appreciate is the proximity to the competition venues. I just spoke to a female American speedskater and Russian ice hockey player and the first thing they say is, ‘We can walk from here to our training sessions.”

Bach has his own room in the village, keeping a tradition started by his predecessor, Jacques Rogge, though he also stays in a luxury hotel nearby during IOC meetings.

“One of the greatest privileges of an IOC president is you can ask for a room in the Olympic Village,” Bach said. “It’s here where the Olympic spirit lives.”


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