Yelena Isinbayeva attempts to clarify comments on Russia's anti-gay law

The Guardian
|
August 16, 2013
Issues: 

Yelena Isinbayeva has blamed her poor English for Thursday's controversial statements on Russia's anti-gay law, insisting she is opposed to discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

The Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law in June making it illegal to give under-18s information about homosexuality. The move has been widely condemned and has led to calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The US runner Nick Symmonds this week dedicated his world 800m silver medal to his gay and lesbian friends in response, while the high jumperEmma Green-Tregaro painted her fingernails in the colours of the rainbow.

Green-Tregaro was criticised by the home favourite Isinbayeva, who defended the new law in a press conference before collecting her pole vault gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow.

Her comments attracted widespread criticism and led Isinbayeva to clarify her remarks in a statement released via the IAAF, athletics' world governing body.

"English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday," she said.

"What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests.

"But let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality [which is against the Olympic charter]."