Russian track and field athletes Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova kissed on the winners’ podium Saturday after winning the gold medal for the women’s 4x400 relay. Viewers of the Moscow World Athletics Championships took to Twitter to debate whether Ryzhova and Firova had violated Russia’s anti-gay law.
Sky News reports the smooch was in protest of Russia’s anti-gay law, but Russian officials say it was simply a congratulatory kiss.
Neither runner has commented publicly on the incident.
The incident leads us back to a question that has been asked ever since Russia banned “homosexual propaganda” in June: just what constitutes “homosexual propaganda”?
Outlets keep repeating that their intent is not particularly important and that the runners will find themselves in hot water simply because their kiss could be viewed as promoting nontraditional sexual relations.
On Friday, Yelena Isinbayeva, the Russian pole vault gold medalist, criticized athletes who are acting out against Russia’s anti-gay law.
"It's disrespectful to our country, disrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians," Isinbayeva told a news conference.
After a public backlash, Isinbayeva claimed her statement was misunderstood.
"What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests," Isinbayeva said in a statement. "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 [which is against the Olympic charter]."