Moments after taking home the gold medal in the 4×400 relay at the World Championships in their home country’s world-class city of Moscow, Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova shared a kiss on the winner’s podium.
Such an action would garner attention and subsequent headlines anywhere, such a surprise as it was. The photo above even makes it look like their teammates are surprised.
What makes this an even bigger deal is the recent scrutiny of Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” laws. With the 2014 Winter Olympics set to bring the world’s spotlight upon Sochi, Russia, some people are calling for a boycott of the Games until the government provides equal treatment for its entire population. Others are calling for homosexual men and women to compete openly – and hopefully win, just like a black Jesse Owens did right in front of Hitler during the 1936 Berlin Games.
“We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness, and non-traditional sexual relations,” Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said to the AP.
“I can say once again that the freedoms of Russian and foreign athletes and guests who come to Sochi will be absolutely protected.”
If more Russian athletes feel the way Ryzhova and Firova feel, keeping the children protected may prove increasingly more difficult for Mutko and the rest of the Russian government.
That was most likely the entire point of their immediately world-moving kiss.
[H/T: CBS Sports]