August 13, 2016 2:03:45 am
Russian synchronised swimming champion Alexandra Patskevich said on Friday her country’s national flag had been stripped from the wall and left scrunched on the floor on her first day at the Rio Olympics.
The incident will feed what some have called an “anti-Russian atmosphere” in Rio following revelations of state-sponsored doping in the country, which dominated the run-up to the Games and cost dozens of Russian athletes their place in the competition.
Russian competitors have been booed and jeered at multiple events, notably in the pool where tensions between U.S. and Russian swimmers have fomented an atmosphere reminiscent of the Cold War, and fans have taunted each other in the Olympic Park.
“Day one was unbelievably long, hard and gruelling,” Patskevich, who won gold in the women’s team competition at London 2012, wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of the Russian squad limbering up next to the pool.
“Everyone is asking us about attitudes towards Russian athletes? Why we should keep quiet – they are not respectful! Judge for yourselves – this morning started with us finding the flag torn down and crumpled in a heap outside our door.”
A spokesman for the Russian Olympic Committee said he was aware of the incident but had no further details.
The Rio synchronised swimming competition starts on Sunday. Russia won both the team and duet events in London and has won eight Olympic gold medals in the sport.
“We won’t be broken or provoked,” Patskevich said. “We smile all the more and work even harder.”
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