Respect the rules at Sochi 2014, warns Swedish Olympic Committee following rainbow nails "protest”

Wednesday, 21 August 2013
By James Crook

Emma Green Tregaro was told to remove her rainbow coloured nail varnish by Swedish officials at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow last weekAugust 21 - Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) head Stefan Lindeberg has warned athletes that political statements will not be tolerated at Sochi 2014 after two of the nation's athletes caused a stir by sporting rainbow-coloured nail varnish at the Athletics World Championships in Moscow last week.

In what they called a "silent protest" against Russia's anti-gay legislation, high jumper Emma Green Tregaro and sprinter Moa Hjelmer were ordered by Swedish officials to change their nail attire and "respect the rules" over fears that they could be flouting competition rules with political statements.

"They [International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)] were saying that this was by definition a breach of the regulations, not saying anything else, really," said SOK general secretary Anders Albertsson.

"We have informed our athletes about this."

SOK President Lindeberg has warned his athletes to keep their beliefs under wraps when competing to avoid defying the Olympic Charter, which states that no political propaganda is "permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

"You can have views about how a country is run as an individual, but we can't have athletes using sporting arenas to demonstrate these perceptions," he told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

"It's absolutely out of the question."

Protests against Russia's anti-gay legislation have taken place all over the world, including outside the Russian Consulate in New YorkProtests against Russia's anti-gay legislation have taken place all over the world, including outside the Russian Consulate in New York

Protests and demonstrations against Russia's controversial anti-gay legislation have gathered momentum rapidly since its introduction in June, and there is now an online petition to move the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics from Sochi to the city that hosted the last Games, Vancouver, which has garnered more than 160,000 signatures.

"The Olympics is about excellence, tolerance and respect - to hold the Winter Games in Russia with in the current political climate of hate toward LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) people is not compatible with those values," claims the petition.

The legislation in question was introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, making it a crime to "promote homosexuality or non-traditional relationships" in the nation.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993 and was only removed from the list of mental illnesses in 1999.

There are still no laws in the country to protect against discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Russian pole vault icon Yelena Isinbayeva, launched an attack on Green Tregaro after she hit the headlines with the rainbow-coloured nail varnish, labelling her as disrespectful before declaring her support to the Russian Government.

Yelena Isinbayeva shocked press with her comments, before claiming  they were misinterpreted the next dayYelena Isinbayeva shocked press with her comments, before claiming
they were misinterpreted the next day

"We consider ourselves as standard people - women live with boys, boys live with women," said Isinbayeva, whose comments have since led to calls for her role as Mayor of the Olympic Village at Sochi 2014 to be revoked.

"I feel sorry that they try to involve the athletes into this problem.

"Everyone can participate, everyone can compete, but of course, we are against promoting such a relationship in the street.

"We are against the publicity not against the choice of every single person.

"I support our Government," she added, before hastily backtracking the next day, claiming her comments had been misunderstood due to the fact that English is not her mother tongue. 

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