In the lead up to the Sochi Winter Olympics this week, lesbian Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff has spoken up about how “worried” her parents are for her safety due to anti-gay laws in the host country.
In an interview with BBC Sport on Tuesday, Ms Brockhoff said: ”I want to go there because I’m not afraid of these laws and I want others that live in Russia, who are homosexuals, to see that.”
However, the 21-year-old says her parents are “so worried” about her competing in Sochi, and send her messages all the time.
She added her mother fears she will be targeted by Russian police for her sexuality, and her father is concerned the media will “crucify” her in the lead up to the Games.
“I’m sure Putin’s already reading about me or other athletes who have said things,” she added.
President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.
Ms Brockhoff also said she will “limit” herself when it comes to protesting the Games, although she added that winning Gold would better enable her voice to be heard in the first place.
“I’ll make my opinion heard, but I also know that if I don’t get a gold medal, most people won’t care about my opinion.
“People only care about your opinion if you win gold, or if you’ve made it big-time before. A gold medal would be the best outcome. Through that I can voice my opinion.”
She added she would not do “anything crazy”, like wave a rainbow flag at Putin, but she would be able to form some kind of statement through ‘principle six’ of the Olympic Charter.
She explained: “The most I’ll do is put up six fingers when there is a camera on me, for principle six.
“It is a way athletes and non-athletes can voice their opinions about discrimination without exactly protesting.”
On Tuesday, Ms Brockhoff tweeted her excitement in the run up to the Winter Games:
All packed for Sochi!!!— Belle Brockhoff (@bellebrockhoff) February 4, 2014
Previously, she told ABC that she would consider some form of protest at the event, but “it’s definitely a little bit scary when you think about, like, arrest and deportation, pulling out of events and all that stuff.”
The head of the Australian Olympic committee has told the country’s athletes to keep protests “off the podium” at the Winter Olympics in Russia this week.