Preparation for the Winter Olympics in Sochi took an unusual turn ahead of the opening ceremony on Feb. 7, as a string of risque photos featuring Russia's female athletes arrived online.
Stewart's report also translates the message from the original website, which states, "Russian sportswomen are the best campaigners for our team in Sochi."
Organisers have revealed the photos in an attempt to battle against the stereotype that "women in sport are just a heap of muscles and masculine shapes."
Ski-jumper Irina Avvakumova, ice hockey goalkeeper Anna Prugova and curler Ekaterina Galkina are amongst those posing alongside sporting equipment.
This is not the first time female stars have been used to promote a sporting event in a similar manner. As reported by Massimo Marioni of the Metro, the German under-20 squad took part in a Playboy photoshoot ahead of the 2011 World Cup finals.
Russia's racy compilation is causing quite a stir ahead of the Games. Australia's The Daily Telegraph called the promotion a "soft porn shoot," while suggesting the nation is "courting controversy" with the release of such material.
England-based Yulia Ivanova told Peacock the shoot "is not seen as prostitution or degradation – it is seen as strength and confidence" in Russia.
Action at the Sochi Winter Olympics officially begins on Feb. 8, running through to Feb. 23. Ollie Williams of BBC Sport reports 98 gold medals are up for grabs across 15 disciplines, with over 2,900 athletes from 85 countries heading into the spotlight.
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