'Mayor' of Sochi Olympic Village criticizes athletes for supporting LGBT rights

The Baltimore Sun

Russian pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, who is tasked with welcoming international athletes at one of Sochi's two Olympic Villages in 2014, criticized fellow athletes Thursday for painting their fingernails in rainbow colors to support LGBT rights in Russia.

Isinbayeva, who was named the "mayor" of Sochi's coastal Olympic Village, also declared her strong support for Russia's new anti-gay law.

"If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people,'' Isinbayeva, who won her third women's pole vaulting world title in Moscow this week, told The Associated Press.

"Everything must be fine. It comes from history," she added. "We never had any problems, these problems in Russia, and we don't want to have any in the future."

Hear that? Everyone is totally normal in Russia, and they've "never had" those pesky homosexual problems apparently plaguing the rest of us.

If the "mayor" position is anything like it was in the London Olympics in 2012, Isinbayeva will be responsible for welcoming both athletes and dignitaries to Sochi. Given comments like the ones above, it's hard to imagine LGBT competitors, coaches and officials receiving a warm welcome from the pole vaulter.

And straight allies of the LGBT community shouldn't expect much love, either. Isinbayeva's comments came after Swedish athletes Emma Green Tregaro and Moa Hjelmer competed at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow with their fingernails adorned with the colors of the rainbow. The pair joins American runner Nick Symmonds on a list of foreign athletes who have taken a stand against a Russian law banning "gay propaganda."

For Green Tregaro, at least, the manicure was political. The high jumper posted an Instagram photo of her multicolored nails with the hashtag #pride, and a caption in Swedish that the AP translated as "Nails painted in the colors of the rainbow."

She also told Swedish newspaper Expressen that the gesture "felt like a simple, small thing that maybe could trigger some thoughts." (That quote is again translated by the AP.)

Those tiny gestures are "unrespectful" to Russia and its citizens, according to Isinbayeva.  "We have our home and everyone has to respect [it]," the AP reports her saying to reporters. "When we arrive to different countries, we try to follow their rules.''

So there you have it: LGBT athletes should stifle their views on gay rights and hide their pride out of "respect."

After all, Russia's laws are being so respectful to them.

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