“We are a united team and when we are united we are invincible. We will have to compete without the tricolor and without the Russian anthem (…) but the most important thing is that we carry loyalty and love for our country and this is what five-time Olympic champion in synchronized swimming Svetlana Romashina said during a ceremony in the Kremlin. : “Sure that no one can take it from us.”
As he turned his back on the European soccer championship for fear of infection, Russian President Vladimir Putin made an exception for the Olympic team. He wished them a “successful participation”, and demanded that they strictly adhere to Tokyo’s health regulations and ensure that they were protected from “any abuse” by certain countries, referring to the United States.
More than 300 athletes and 50 medals
Russia will send 335 athletes to Tokyo, 50 more than in Rio, where not only the entire athletics team was missing, but also many representatives of such disciplines as weightlifting and rowing, as well as cycling, swimming and rowing.
In all, the Russian team will travel to the Japanese capital with representatives in more than thirty Olympic disciplines, 60% of which will be vaccinated, while the rest will carry antibodies, according to the Russian Olympic Committee (COR).
“We plan to fight for about 50 medals,” said Stanislav Pozdnyakov, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.
In the previous games, despite all the difficulties, Russia took fourth place with 56 medals, 19 of them gold.
On this occasion, Pozdnyakov stressed that the authorities expect Russia to step up a step and take third place in the medal table, although it will have to overtake China or the United Kingdom, and hope that Germany and hosts Japan will not. improve their performance.
Russia is confident of taking medals in disciplines such as wrestling, judo, gymnastics, fencing, boxing, swimming and synchronized swimming. In recent years, new stars have appeared in Russian sports, such as swimmer Kliment Kolesnikov, one of the stars of the European Championships in Budapest, where he broke the world record with a 50-meter backstroke.
When it comes to team sports, the hopes lie in women’s handball, water polo and volleyball. Men’s basketball did not earn a place in the last Olympics. The female will not attend Tokyo either.
NO SCIENCE OR HYMN
It would be strange to see Russian athletes climb to the top of the podium without being able to hear the Russian anthem, but rather a piano tune by legendary Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky. In the medal table, Russia will appear by the abbreviation ROC (Russian Olympic Committee).
Blame this on the complicity with doping, which extended first to athletics and then to winter sports at the Sochi Olympics. As a result, the World Anti-Doping Agency punished Russia with a fine of four years in 2019.
Nor will Russian athletes be able to carry the flag at their celebrations. The jerseys of the Russian national team will not include the national emblem with a two-headed eagle or a badge with the tricolor flag of the Russian Federation.
The rules are very strict. Synchronized swimmers were forbidden to wear swimsuits with a painted bear, as well as songs in which the word Russia was pronounced. Two Russian athletes, a woman and a man, will carry the neutral flag at the opening ceremony.
The WADA ban prevents Russian officials from attending the games, although in Putin’s case he may receive a personal invitation from the host country’s government.
The ordeal of Russian sports began in January in the Handball World Cup in Egypt and will continue for two years, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport cut the penalty imposed by the International Anti-Doping Agency in half, which not everyone in the West understood, especially in the United States, who is leading the crusade against doping in Russia.
In athletics, ten neutrals
Russian athletics had a representative in Rio, long jumper Daria Klishina. This time there will be ten neutral athletes who have been approved by the World Athletics Federations.
They are few, but many Russian athletes, especially the world champion in the triple high jump, Maria Lasitskene, and her counterpart Anzelika Sidorova, have many medal options.
It remains to be seen in what form Sergei Shubenkov, the European and world 110m hurdles champion, arrived at the last minute on the list after being given the go-ahead from the Athletics Safety Unit after being disqualified for nearly half a year. Suspicion of doping.