Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking the right line on gay rights, and professed his great admiration for him.

The comments are likely to attract outrage from gay rights organisations, and shine a brighter light on international sports organisations’ lack of interest in human rights.

The 83-year-old told CNN’s Ben Wyatt: ‘[Putin] hasn’t said he doesn’t agree [with homosexuality], just that he doesn’t want these things publicised to an audience under the age of 18. I completely agree with those sentiments and if you took a world census you’d find 90% of the world agree with it as well.’

He added: ‘I’ve great admiration for him and his courage to say what he says…[It] may upset a few people but that’s how the world is. It’s how he sees [the world] and I think he’s completely right.’

Russia introduced a law banning the dissemination of any information about homosexuality to under-18s, with a so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’ law. But it has been widely interpreted as effectively banning homosexuality, with police taking a hard line on any kind of public displays, especially as the spotlight is on the country with the Winter Olympics.

Ecclestone met Putin a year ago, when he flew to Sochi to assess construction progress ahead of Russia’s debut grand prix. The resort town – described by many journalists as ‘like a tired English seaside resort’ – will stage round 16 of this year’s world championships on a circuit that will run around the Olympic Park’s facilities. Ecclestone commented that Russia has done a ‘first-class job’ in the new circuit’s preparation and, despite the many problems being circulated on Twitter, a ‘super job’ in hosting the Olympics.

The billionaire is due in court in Germany in April, accused of making corrupt payments to a banker who worked on the sale of Formula 1 in 2006. Although he denies the charges, in a connected civil case brought against him in London, he was labelled ‘not reliable or truthful’ by the judge.