Lesbian Austrian ski jumper and gay rights advocate Daniela Iraschko-Stolz says that the fuss over anti-gay laws in Russia is being blown out of proportion, despite reports of over 60 arrests and beatings against demonstrators since the games began.
The 30-year-old athlete, who is representing Austria in the Olympic Games, spoke to reporters about whether she was worried about the law prohibiting gay “propaganda” in Russia.
She said: “No, on the contrary, I think everything is being blown up bigger than it is. I had a very good welcome like every other athlete. There were absolutely no problems.”
It was reported on Friday that police arrested up to 23 gay rights activists nationwide since the start of the Sochi Games. These arrests were followed with reports of beatings and threats of sexual violence.
“Naturally you have to look at it from a different point of view and always be critical, but especially in my situation, I don’t want to talk too much about it,” Ms Iraschko-Stolz added.
“I only want to focus on sports and I think if you’re tolerant towards everyone else they treat you the same way and it gives you a lot of joy. I think you can make a statement by jumping well.”
Commenting on her experiences in Russia, she said: ”Living in the Olympic village is much better than I’d ever imagined. At the moment I’m living like a fairy tale because as a child I always wanted to take part in the Olympics Games.”
“That it’s happening now at the age of 30 is unbelievable… every day when I wake up I’m still here and that must mean it’s true.”
On the arrests made at the Olympic Games, the IOC has said: “We understand that the protesters were quickly released. As in many countries in the world, in Russia, you need permission before staging a protest. We understand this was the reason that they were temporarily detained.