Openly gay tennis legend Martina Navratilova believes it will be impossible to separate sport from politics at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Next month's games are being overshadowed by Russia's new anti-gay law, which prohibits the promotion of “gay propaganda” to minors.

Navratilova accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of ignoring the issue.

“The athletes are told by the IOC to not make any protests, any statements, and really separate the politics from sport, which is impossible,” Navratilova said. “It's a controversial situation there and it will be interesting how it all unfurls. But the biggest issue for gay people living in Russia is not what's going to happen during the Olympics, it's about what happens before and also after the Olympics.”

“You wouldn't let a dog get beat up and yet human beings get beat up simply for who they are. We know those laws are going to change eventually but right now it's a very unfriendly climate,” she added.