February 4 - Athletes competing at Sochi 2014 should not use the event as a platform to protest against Russia's controversial anti-gay propaganda law, the Mayor of the Olympic Village in the mountains warned here today.
Svetlana Zhurova, the Turin 2006 500 metres speed skating gold medallist, claimed that no-one cared about an athlete's sexual orientation and is angry the debate has overshadowed the build-up to the Games.
"Everyone is taking about this topic and it seems to have become the most important topic of the Olympics," said the 42-year-old, who is now a politician with the ruling United Russia Party formerly led by the country's President Vladimir Putin.
"No-one is talking about the results but about this.
"For the spectators, it is more important who wins than whether he or her is homosexual or not.
"This doesn't matter.
"We would root for any athlete.
"I'm sure there will be no problems.
"I have never seen [this] at any Olympic Games and I would call on the people who are going to protest, that it doesn't make sense.
"We are all participants of the Games and we are going to applaud the straight people and the homosexuals just like the previous Olympic Games."
Last year world pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, Mayor of the Olympic Village in the coastal cluster, provoked worldwide outrage when she said "we ask everyone to be respectful to our country and our people.
"We consider ourselves as standard people - women live with boys, boys live with women."
It led to calls for her to be sacked as Mayor, although she later claimed she had been "misunderstood".
Isinbayeva is now playing a high-profile role, appearing regularly alongside International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
But Zhurova is upset that, she claims, Russia is being unfairly singled out for criticism.
"It is strange to me why this needs to happen at our Olympics here in Russia and not in other countries," she said.
"What is the difference?
"It is the Olympics.
"It is a competition for the whole world.
"Why does there need to be difference?"
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