Russian Gymnast Dons War Symbol on Uniform While Standing Beside Ukrainian

A Russian gymnast precipitated a stir on Saturday after sporting a pro-Russian army image throughout a serious athletic occasion, and afterward whereas standing on the medal podium subsequent to a competitor from Ukraine.

Ivan Kuliak, 20, received bronze in parallel bars on the International Gymnastics Federation’s Artistic World Cup in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday. Throughout his look on the occasion, a white “Z” made from tape may very well be seen on his uniform, in line with Inside the Games. The image is just like the type spray-painted on Russian tools and autos in Ukraine to assist differentiate them.

The image has been interpreted by some as a present of assist by Kuliak for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in line with sports activities journalist Rick Westhead.

Kuliak’s show was particularly notable provided that he competed towards an athlete from Ukraine, 18-year-old Kovtun Illia, and even stood beside him in the course of the medal ceremony. Illia received the parallel bars occasion, whereas Kulak positioned third, and Kazahkstan’s Karimi Milad in second.

The competitors marked the final for Kuliak and different gymnasts from Belarus and Russia. Beginning March 7, they’re barred from competing in International Gymnastics Federation occasions attributable to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ assist of the army operation. The federation’s ban follows comparable measures made in response to the invasion of Ukraine by the International Olympic Committee and FIFA.

During Saturday’s competitors, Kuliak wore a impartial uniform since Russia’s flag is banned from showing in worldwide competitors whereas the nation serves out punishment tied to a state-sponsored doping program. The ‘Z’ image was taped onto Kuliak’s chest in the course of the meet, within the area the place a nation’s flag would historically go.

In response to the seemingly pro-invasion show by Kuliak, the International Gymnastics Federation confirmed on Sunday that it had requested an investigation from the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation with a punishment doubtlessly to comply with, in line with a press release despatched to Sky Sports within the U.Ok.

russia ukraine gymnast ivan kuliak
Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak appeared to put on a pro-invasion white “Z’ image on his uniform throughout a current efficiency. Above, the identical image is painted by a demonstrator at a pro-invasion occasion in Serbia.
Andrej Isakovic/AFP

Newsweek reached out to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation for a touch upon this story however didn’t hear again earlier than publishing.

In response to Kuliak’s gesture, Ukrainian gymnast Oleg Verniaiev took to Instagram to talk out towards it.

“Of course, you will excuse me, but let the Russians not shout that sport is out of politics!” Verniaiev wrote. “Congratulations to our guy [Illia], everything is in its place glory to Ukraine.”

By distinction, earlier within the week two-time Russian Olympic gold medallist Svetlana Khorkina shared an identical “Z” image in a submit alongside a pro-Russia message.

“A campaign for those who are not ashamed to be Russian,” Khorkina wrote.

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