UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the participants of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to advocate equality and non-discrimination during the games next month.

"The participants in the Sochi Games may carry the flags of many nations, but they come together under the shared banner of equality, fair play, mutual respect and non-discrimination," Ban said in a statement seeking the truce during the Sochi Games as well as the Paralympic Games in March.

He asked "all those involved in the games -- governments, groups, organizations and individuals -- to uphold and defend these core Olympic ideals."

Russia triggered criticism and boycott calls for the Games in June, when it banned spreading "gay propaganda" to children. Critics denounced the law as discriminatory and said it is a curb on rights to free speech and assembly.

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