NEW YORK — Protesters in cities around the world targeted major Olympic sponsors Wednesday, just ahead of the Winter Games in Sochi, urging them to speak out against Russia’s law restricting gay-rights activities.
Two more sponsors of the U.S. Olympic team condemned the law but leading global sponsors did not join them.
“No, no to Russia’s anti-gay law,” chanted several dozen protesters in Paris who gathered in front of a McDonald’s restaurant at the Place de la Republique. The fast-food chain is one of the International Olympic Committee’s 10 top sponsors for the Sochi Games that open Friday.
Protests also took place in London, Jerusalem, St. Petersburg, Russia, and elsewhere. In all, 20 demonstrations were planned by the advocacy group All Out and its allies.
McDonald’s, like other top IOC sponsors, reiterated that it supports human rights and opposes discrimination, but its statement did not mention the Russian law.
Coca-Cola, another prime target of protests, also didn’t mention the law in its latest statement, though it described itself as a strong supporter of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
THE AMBITIOUS slopestyle course that sent Shaun White sprinting for the serenity and apparent safety of the halfpipe isn’t the only Olympic event at Sochi’s Extreme Park turning heads and sending riders tumbling down the mountain.
Things have been nearly as dicey in moguls. The U.S. was among several countries to unsuccessfully ask officials to tweak the course, expressing concerns about unusual sequencing along the 700-foot sprint across bumps and jumps that make for a unique mixture of daredevil downhill racing and aerials.
“There’s a lot of issues with the course,” American Patrick Deneen said.
THE WORLD Anti-Doping Agency said it’s “totally outrageous” that a Russian scientist reportedly offered to sell a seemingly potent and undetectable new muscle-building drug to undercover journalists.
The WADA director general, David Howman, said the substance has only previously been trialed on animals, and the WADA president, Craig Reedie, said it would be “potentially very dangerous” if athletes took it.
A German broadcaster, WDR, said a scientist at the renowned Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow offered to sell the substance, known as full size MGF, to undercover reporters.
THE UNITED STATES chose a six-time Olympian, Todd Lodwick, to be the team’s flagbearer at Friday’s opening ceremony for the Sochi Games.
Lodwick, 36, is competing in the Nordic combined in Sochi. He is the first American to compete in six Winter Games. Lodwick was part of the team that won silver in Vancouver in 2010.
A Nordic combined is ski jumping and cross-country skiing.