Russian gymnast faces disciplinary action after showing Z symbol

The Russian gymnast who sported letter linked to invasion of Ukraine on medals podium blasted by the sport body.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) says it will open disciplinary proceedings against Russian artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak for his “shocking behaviour” in displaying a symbol of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during an event.

The 20-year-old, who on Saturday finished third in the parallel bars final at the Apparatus World Cup in Qatar’s capital Doha, had the letter “Z” prominently placed on the front of his outfit as he stood next to Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun, who won the gold.

Russian forces have used the letter Z as an identifying symbol on their tanks and vehicles in Ukraine following Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour. Some supporters of the invasion have also been displaying the symbol.

“The International Gymnastics Federation confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against … Kuliak following his shocking behaviour at the Apparatus World Cup,” the FIG said in a statement on Sunday.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” designed not to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

The FIG has already cancelled all of its events in Russia and Belarus, adding that it would not allocate other events to the two countries until further notice.

Belarus has been a key staging area for Russian forces.

“The FIG adopted further measures against Russia and Belarus on March 4. From March 7, 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.

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