Sochi organizers have back-pedaled on comments made by its head official concerning the rights of Olympic athletes to freely express themselves at news conferences during the games.

Dmitry Chernyshenko said he didn't think athletes were allowed to speak about non-sporting issues at news conferences. That contradicted IOC president Thomas Bach, who said Monday that athletes would be free to do so.

Organizers say Thursday they ''are fully aligned with the position of the International Olympic Committee.''

They issued a statement saying Chernyshenko ''simply meant that athletes are free to express themselves at a press conference - but of course they cannot use a press conference to make a demonstration or protest - similarly, they cannot use any Olympic venue to demonstrate.''

Athletes are forbidden from making political demonstrations or gestures on the medal stand and at other venues by the Olympic Charter.