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Russian Olympians face backlash after attending Vladimir Putin rally

LONDON — Russian Olympic athletes who participated in a rally supporting President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine are dealing with a backlash, with one dropping a sponsorship deal and dealing with a disciplinary investigation.

Medalists from cross-country snowboarding, gymnastics, determine skating and swimming gathered on stage on the Luzhniki Stadium on Friday as a part of the live performance and leisure program round Putin’s speech.

Olympic champion swimmer Evgeny Rylov is underneath investigation for attending the occasion, the game’s governing physique instructed The Related Press.

“FINA is deeply disillusioned to notice the reviews concerning Evgeny Rylov’s look on the Luzhniki Stadium throughout Friday’s rally. We’re investigating the matter additional,” the governing physique stated in an e mail Tuesday.

Rylov has additionally misplaced his endorsement cope with swimwear producer Speedo due to his involvement within the pro-Putin rally.

“Following his attendance on the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on the weekend, Speedo can verify that it has terminated the sponsorship of Evgeny Rylov with fast impact,” the corporate stated. “We condemn the struggle in Ukraine within the strongest potential means and stand in solidarity with the individuals of Ukraine, our athletes and our teammates who’ve been impacted by the battle.”

Speedo stated it’ll donate the rest of Rylov’s sponsorship price to UNHCR, the United Nations company caring for refugees.

Many of the athletes, together with Rylov, have been pictured sporting jackets with a “Z” on the chest on the rally. The letter is not a part of the Russian alphabet however has turn out to be a logo of assist for Russian troops after it was used as a marker on Russian armored automobiles working in Ukraine.

Different Olympic medalists in attendance included determine skaters Victoria Sinitsina, Nikita Katsalapov, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov; cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov; and rhythmic gymnastics twin sisters Dina and Arina Averina.

The athletes stood on stage because the nationwide anthem was performed in an obvious reference to how Russian groups finally yr’s Summer time Olympics in Tokyo and this yr’s Winter Olympics in Beijing did not have the anthem at their ceremonies within the fallout from years of doping disputes.

The occasion was held on the anniversary of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, with patriotic songs and reward for troops and Russia-backed separatists.

“Not so way back we supported them on this tough Olympic season, now they assist the struggle in opposition to us and our nation,” Ukrainian ice dancer Oleksandra Nazarova wrote on Instagram final week with an image of 4 Russian skaters collaborating within the rally.

Nazarova and accomplice Maksym Nikitin are each from Kharkiv, the largely Russian-speaking metropolis in northeastern Ukraine which has been subjected to intense bombardments by Russian forces.

Because the invasion, dozens of sports activities banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from their occasions after the Worldwide Olympic Committee advisable they be expelled from competitors. Belarus has been an ally of Russia within the struggle.

There’s a precedent for a Russian competitor being personally punished for supporting authorities insurance policies. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak is dealing with a disciplinary listening to for sporting a “Z” image on the rostrum subsequent to a Ukrainian competitor, and chess participant Sergey Karjakin was suspended for six months Monday for social media posts with strident assist for Putin and Russian troops.

The governing our bodies for snowboarding, gymnastics and skating have all barred Russian groups from their occasions. Swimming has not however says Russians and Belarusians should compete “in a impartial capability.”

Rylov, nevertheless, posted on Instagram on Wednesday that he’ll boycott the swimming world championships in June and July “as an indication of assist” for Russian athletes who have been barred from different competitions.


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