Tennis star Martina Navratilova has warned that anti-gays laws in Russia will make it “impossible” to separate sport from politics at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

According to AFP, the openly gay ex-Wimbledon champion spoke out against the International Olympic Committee on the sidelines of the Australian open.

She said: “The athletes are told by the IOC to not make any protests, any statements, and really separate the politics from sport, which is impossible.

“It’s a controversial situation there and it will be interesting how it all unfolds.”

Previously, Ms Navratilova accused the IOC of “putting their head in the sand” for claiming that politics and sport do not mix.

She said: ““I think we can say that sports and politics are inextricably combined – they go hand in hand – and that’s where my disappointment was with the IOC,”

Russian president Vladimir Putin passed the law banning “gay propaganda” in June last year.

IOC President Thomas Bach has warned athletes against making political gestures at the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, but plans to set up protest zones for them to “express their views”.