Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva: My anti-gay comments have been ‘misunderstood’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva has said she may have been “misunderstood” when she made comments in defence of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

It follows criticism from British heptathlete Louise Hazel who tweeted “Yelena Isinbayeva’s ‘homophobic’ comments have no place in our sport!”

Hazel said to BBC Sport: “The International Olympic Committee should revise her position.”

The 2010 Commonwealth Games champion said it was important for the IOC to act and added that Isinbayeva’s views had left her disappointed and in “deep shock”.

“It should be their first point of call after the championships are over.”

Criticising Swedish athlete Emma Green Tregaro for painting her nails in the colour of the rainbow at this week’s Moscow World Athletics Championships, Isinbayeva said: “It’s unrespectful [sic] to our country, it’s unrespectful [sic] to our citizens, because we are Russians, Maybe we are different from European people and other people from different lands.”

She stated: “If we allow [them] 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.”

On Friday Isinbayeva said she was opposed to sexual discrimination, and that her English comments in support of her country’s laws may have been misconstrued.

“English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday,” she said in a statement.

“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.”