LAUSANNE: Jacques Rogge has criticised Olympic youth ambassador Yelena Isinbayeva for her comments supporting the anti-gay legislation enacted in Russia earlier this year.
The Belgian president of the International Olympic Committee, in an interview with the BBC, said he was disappointed with the newly recrowned world pole vault champion.
Isinbayeva, a valuable ‘clean face’ of doping-embattled world athletics, had criticised the pubic stance taken at last week’s world championships in Moscow by Swedish athletes Emma Green Tregaro and Moa Hjelmer.
They had painted their fingernails in rainbow colours, a symbol of gay pride, in protest at the controversial law which has come under fire from around the world.
Isinbayeva had said: “We are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves normal, standard people . . . We never had these problems in Russia, and we don’t want to have any in the future.
“Everyone can participate, everyone can compete, but of course if they will promote sexual relations outside in the street it won’t be respectable for a lot of our citizens because we are all, from inside of us, against it.”
Although Isinbayeva issued a clarifying retreat, her status as an ambassador for the Youth Olympic Games and as mayor of the Olympic village in Sochi next year are both under review.
Rogge said: “It was disappointing. Fortunately she reacted to that and addressed that by second declaration. But she should not have done that.
“She should not have intervened with such words and such a debate. It was definitely was an ill-advised judgment amd she, fortunately, corrected that.”
Russia’s new legislation outlawing the distribution of so-called gay propaganda to under-18s has led to international condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s government.
On Thursday Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Kozak, sent the IOC a formal reassurance that there would be no discrimination of gay people during the Sochi Winter Games.
The IOC responded by accepting the assurance but restating the words of the the Olympic Charter which prohibits discrimination of any sort.
Isinbayeva followed up her anti-gay remarks by prompting further controversy with criticism of her home city of Volgograd. She said it was so “awful and old [and] deteriorated” that she had no option but to make her home in future in the billionaires’ tax haven of Monaco.