Glamorous US swimmer Amanda Beard became the first athlete to cross the boundary between sport and politics at the Beijing Olympics today when she took part in a naked protest against the international fur trade.
Ms Beard, a double Olympic Champion, posed for a nude picture as part of a publicity campaign run by the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The swimmer, who is no stranger to showing a little skin - she posed naked for a centerfold in Playboy Magazine last year - said she was determined to use the Olympic platform as a stage for her views.
"What happens with animals when their skin is ripped from their bodies when they are still alive, it's heartbreaking for me," she told reporters.
The Chinese authorities did their best to limit the impact of her protest, shutting down a press conference which PETA had planned on the terrace of a hotel overlooking the 'Water Cube' Olympic swimming venue.
After police turned organisers away from the hotel citing 'safety concerns', Ms Beard was forced to present her message from the side of the main road outside the Athlete's Village.
"It was very disappointing," said Jason Baker, PETA's Asia-Pacific director, "We weren't making a political attack on the Chinese government and had sent our press release in advance to the Beijing Committee, but apparently that was not enough."
Ms Beard, 26, said she had no intention of upsetting the Chinese authorities, but wanted to convey her anti-fur message in China which is the world's leading fur exporter.
"I'm not trying to be in everybody's face and be harsh or negative. I want to be calm and yet get my voice out there. I'm doing it for all those animals who don't have a voice," she said.
Although the Olympic rules prevent athletes from making political statements, Swimming USA said that Ms Beard would not be censured for her actions.
"Each athlete has been allowed to do one pre-competition publicity appearance and Amanda was only endorsing a campaign which she had signed up to before the Games," a spokeswoman for Swimming USA said.