GERMAN PRESIDENT Joachim Gauck is boycotting the Winter Olympics and will not travel to Sochi, Russia for the Games.
Gauck made the decision to protest human-rights violations and the harassment of Russian opposition political figures, Der Spiegel reported yesterday. The magazine said the Russian government was informed of his decision last week.
Presidential spokeswoman Ferdos Forudastan confirmed the move to the dpa news agency. Gauck's office could not immediately be reached for further confirmation.
Forudastan told dpa that there was no set rule saying German presidents had to travel. Former president Horst Koehler did not travel to Vancouver for the Winter Games in 2010.
Gauck, an outspoken critic of Russia's human-rights record, is yet to visit the country since taking office in March 2012.
Gauck traveled to the Olympics and Paralympics in London last year.
In other Olympic news:
* An Olympic gold medal won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games has sold for a record $1.4 million in an online auction. SCP Auctions said an anonymous bidder paid $1,466,574, the highest price for a piece of Olympic memorabilia. Owens won gold in the 100- and 200-meters, 400 relay and long jump at the games attended by Adolph Hitler, who used the Olympics to showcase his ideas of Aryan supremacy. According to the auction house based, in Laguna Niguel, Calif., the medal is unidentifiable to a specific event.
* Two-time Olympian and six-time Winter X Games snowboardcross champion Nate Holland had successful surgery for a fractured collarbone over the weekend and is expected to return to action in time to try to qualify for the Sochi Games. Holland broke his collarbone while training for this weekend's World Cup opener in Austria, which also serves as the first Olympic qualifying event.
* Lindsey Vonn showed more progress in her comeback from major knee surgery and announced she's "ready for Sochi" after finishing an unofficial fifth through 45 racers in a World Cup super-G in Lake Louise, Albert. It was the third race this weekend for Vonn, a four-time overall World Cup champion and reigning Olympic downhill gold medalist, who hadn't competed since a high-speed crash at the world championships last February.
* Zach Johnson delivered the kind of theatrics that usually belong to Tiger Woods to win the World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Johnson holed out for par from the drop area on the 18th hole at Sherwood that got him into a playoff, and he won when Woods hit a poor shot into the bunker and missed a 5-foot par putt on the first extra hole.
* Jaye Marie Green completed a runaway victory in the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., finishing with a record 29-under 331.
* Miguel Angel Jimenez successfully defended his Hong Kong Open title to extend his record as the oldest winner in European Tour history. The Spaniard won at 49 years, 337 days to break the record he set last year at Hong Kong Golf Club, holing an 18-foot birdie on the first hole of a playoff with Thailand's Prom Meesawat and Wales' Stuart Manley.
* Denmark's Thomas Bjorn had two back-nine eagles in a comeback victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa. The 42-year-old Bjorn closed with a 7-under 65 for a two-stroke victory over Wales' Jamie Donaldson amd Spain's Sergio Garcia.
* Major League Baseball's lawyers say in a court filing that the Oakland Athletics' request to move to San Jose was turned down in June by commissioner Bud Selig.
* Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III has signed with an agent and will forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft, where he is projected by many to be a first-round draft pick. Also, defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt, a junior, has submitted paperwork to get an evaluation where he likely would be selected if he entered the draft.
* Ted Ligety turned in a flawless final run to win a fourth straight World Cup race, edging U.S. teammate Bode Miller in Beaver Creek, Colo.