Google marked the Winter Games in Sochi by flying the gay flag Thursday in a search page Doodle that linked to a call for equality in the Olympic Charter.
Showcasing the flag and the excerpt served as an online rebuttal to Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak, who warned spectators and athletes against promoting gay rights during the Olympics, saying it was forbidden by the Olympic Charter and Russian law to spread propaganda during a sporting event.
Beneath the Rainbow Flag was the following paragraph attributed to the Olympic Charter:
"The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
Clicking on the Doodle triggered a search for news related to the Olympic Charter, with stories about what was being interpreted as a Google protest of an anti-gay atmosphere caused by officials in the host country of Russia.
Google declined to comment.
Amid growing furor over Russia's new law forbidding the dissemination of "gay propaganda" to minors, Kozak once again argued that there was no discrimination based on sexual orientation in Russia.
President Barack Obama told US Olympic host broadcaster NBC he had included openly gay athletes in the US Olympic delegation to show the United States would not accept discrimination in sport or anywhere else.
One day ahead of the official opening of the Games, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a powerful call for equality, saying "we must all raise our voices against attacks" on gays.