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July 25, 2003 12:00am
Swedes Can Go For Gold in Olympic Brothels
Source: Reuters
by: Patrick McLoughlin

(STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN) -- Sweden's Olympic Committee says it will not forbid its athletes from visiting brothels during the 2004 Athens Olympics, saying it trusts its representatives to save their best performances for the Games.

"We do not need to interfere in the private lives of our athletes or threaten them," said Swedish Olympic Committee spokesman Bjorn Folin on Friday.

He would not comment on the decision by the Danish Olympic Committee to send home any athletes caught with their pants down in Athens.

"I didn't know they had a problem. We have never had any problems. Our athletes will stay focused on their performances at the Games," Folin added.

Folin's comments follow protests on Wednesday by the Swedish government and six Nordic and Baltic neighbours, expressing outrage at Athens plan to license more brothels for the 2004 Olympics.

The governments brushed aside Athens' denial that the move was catering to an expected rise in sex tourism and they said Athens' decision would exploit and abuse women.

But another neighbour of Sweden, Denmark, defended Greece's plans, noting prostitution was legal in Greece. Prostitution is also legal in Denmark and its government is against moves to ban the activity.

The row over sex tourism erupted this month when the Greek Orthodox Church accused the Athens city council of planning to license more brothels to meet increased demand during the Games.

Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyiannis -- who wrote to the Swedish government after its protest -- said she was just enforcing laws regulating prostitution rather than issuing extra licences.

But Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister and Equality Minister, Margareta Winberg, was unconvinced and persuaded ministers in Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to join her in expressing their "abhorrence". Denmark declined to sign.

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