Olympic organisers red faced after announcing Ukraine medallists were from ROC
Olympic organisers have apologised after a Ukrainian duo in artistic swimming were mistakenly announced as competing for the Russian Olympic Committee at a medal ceremony.
The Russians Svetlana Romashina and Svetlana Kolesnichenko won the artistic swimming duet on Wednesday with the Ukrainian duo of Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk taking bronze but were announced on the podium as representing ROC.
“It was purely an operational mistake,” said the organising committee spokesman, Masa Tanaka. “The French language calling out [of medallists] should have said Team Ukraine, however it said ROC instead.”
The mistake is particularly sensitive because of diplomatic tensions between Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian region of Crimea was annexed by Russia during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and more than seven years after the annexation, Crimea is still recognised as Ukrainian territory in international law. Conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists continue in the eastern Donbas region near the shared border between the countries.
Announcements at Olympic venues are typically done in Japanese, English and French, which is the home language of the modern Olympic movement.
“People noticed and the person in charge of announcements apologised,” Tanaka said. “I also used this opportunity to express my apology to those who are in the Ukrainian team.”
At the football European Championship, an outline of Ukraine’s national border, including Crimea, was woven into the national team’s shirt. Russian officials complained to Uefa, European football’s governing body, which allowed the outline to stay while asking for a slogan to be removed from inside the collar of the jersey.
European football rules have prevented Ukrain and Russia national and club teams from being drawn against each other for security reasons since 2014. Olympic athletes from the two countries routinely compete in the same events.
During the opening ceremony on 23 July, a Russian TV network cut to commercials just before the Ukrainian athletes entered behind their national flag. The broadcast returned after the team had passed.