Russian Gymnast Ivan Kuliak earned condemnation Sunday by wearing a “Z” on his uniform in apparent support of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kuliak, an artistic gymnast from Kaluga, Russia, indulged his support of his homeland at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar, Fox News reported.
The 20-year-old gymnast finished in third place in the parallel bars and was seen at the winner’s podium wearing his “Z,” a symbol used to identify Russian vehicles during the Ukrainian incursion. The addition to his uniform is reportedly a violation of uniform regulations.
Russian Ivan Kuliak wore the letter Z on his chest during the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Doha.
The Z is reportedly a symbol of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Kuliak won bronze in parallel bars. Ukraine’s Kovtun Illia won gold.)https://t.co/iZ1Kb5RIUq pic.twitter.com/Qi6wGHMGHO
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) March 5, 2022
The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) condemned Kuliak’s “shocking behavior” but did not specifically mention Kuliak’s action.
“The International Gymnastics Federation confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against male artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak (RUS) following his shocking behavior at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar,” the organization said in a statement.
“The FIG adopted further measures against Russia and Belarus on 4 March. From 7 March 2022. Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, are not allowed to take part in FIG competitions or FIG-sanctioned competitions,” the statement added.
A loser. In gymnastics and in life. Shame on you, Ivan Kuliak, and your Z symbol of atrocities, killing innocents and war crimes. pic.twitter.com/1PiYuCzdT1
— Antonello Guerrera (@antoguerrera) March 7, 2022
The organization also noted that Russian and Belarusian athletes are banned until further notice starting March 7 (the day after the event in Doha).
FIG also noted that its actions are aimed at “preserving the integrity of Gymnastics” and at “fighting against all forms of violence and of sports injustice.”
Still, FIG also noted that any Russians or Belarusians working as FIG officials would remain at their posts.
As for Vasily Titov, the head of the Artistic Gymnastics Federation of Russia (FSGR), insisted that Ivan did not want to “make a special demonstration,” but that the FSGR “will support him in any case,” CNN added.
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