Russian athlete Ivan Kuliak slammed after wearing the pro-war symbol after his loss to a Ukrainian gymnast


A Russian gymnast has sparked an uproar after donning a pro-war detail on his uniform as he stood next to a Ukrainian athlete.

Ivan Kuliak, a former junior champion, had just placed third behind Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun on parallel bars at a World Cup in Doha when he stepped onto the podium with a letter Z on his chest.

Stepping onto the podium, Kovtun shook hands with Kazakh silver medalist Karimi of Kazakhstan – but refused to acknowledge his Russian counterpart.

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Russia’s Ivan Kuliak (left) wears the pro-war symbol on his chest as he stands next to Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun. Credit: Claro Sports

Although the letter Z does not actually exist in the Russian alphabet, it featured prominently on tanks and other military vehicles during their ongoing war efforts.

On the streets of Ukraine, it is believed to be a way to separate Ukrainian soldiers – away from the battlefield, it is a show of support.

Kuliak’s statement has not gone unnoticed either, with critics demanding that he be stripped of his bronze medal and face immediate suspension from the sport.

“I can’t think of a more disgusting thing to do and a better reason to completely ban Russia from sporting events instead of the current half-measures,” Ukrainian journalist Tadeus Giczan wrote.

A protester holds a banner with the sign 'Z', in reference to Russian tanks marked with the letter, during a rally organized by Serbian right-wing organisations.
A protester holds a banner with the sign ‘Z’, in reference to Russian tanks marked with the letter, during a rally organized by Serbian right-wing organisations. Credit: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Russian athletes banned from Paralympic Games

Athletes from Russia and Belarus have been banned from the Paralympic Winter Games, in a stunning backflip by the International Paralympic Committee after several teams and athletes threatened to boycott the Beijing Games.

The IPC reversed Wednesday night’s decision to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutral athletes, without their national colors, flags and other symbols, after Russia invaded Ukraine. was supported by Belarus.

He cited threats from National Paralympic Committees, teams and athletes not to compete, saying such a boycott would jeopardize the viability of the Games.

Russian Paralympic Committee
The flag of the Russian Paralympic Committee flew over the Athletes’ Village on the eve of the Games. Credit: PA

Parsons said the IPC did not underestimate the level of reaction it would receive for Wednesday’s initial decision.

“We didn’t underestimate the situation, but what we tried to do with the previous decision was to stick to the principles of the organization and keep the war out of these Games,” he said. -he declares.

“War has been brought to these Games and it has escalated.”

not welcome

World Athletics, and the governing bodies of tennis, cycling and basketball were among the most important of these, following the path taken by football and ice hockey on Monday in response to the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee .

The world governing bodies of rowing, skiing (FIS), volleyball (FIVB), triathlon, canoeing and shooting (ISSF) have also banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in international competitions until at further order.

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