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06th Mar 2022

Russian gymnast wears national war symbol while sharing podium with Ukrainian rival

Charlie Herbert

Gymnast wears pro-war symbol on podium

He was competing a World Cup event in Doha

A Russian gymnast has sparked fury after he wore a Russian war symbol on his shirt while sharing the podium with a Ukrainian competitor.

Ivan Kuliak finished third on the parallel bars  at a World Cup event in Doha, with Ukrainian Ilia Kovtun topping the podium at the event.

But as the two stood side by side, there was a clearly visible ‘Z’ on Kuliak’s shirt, that he appeared to have taped onto his top.

Kuliek stood alongside his Ukrainian rival Illia Kovtun on the podium, with the pro-war symbol emblazoned across his shirt (Twitter)

The letter ‘Z’ represents ‘victory’ in Russian, and has been seen on a number of Russian tanks and military vehicles during their invasion of Ukraine.

Kuliak has a history with the military, having received training with the Russian army last year, the Mail reports.

The ‘Z’ symbol was wear the Russian flag would have been on his shirt, but the International Gymnastics Federation has followed suit with the rest of sport by banning the Russian flag and cancelling all events in Russia and Belarus.

The gesture from Kuliak was branded as “pathetic” by one user on Twitter, with another saying it explained why sport organisation were “kicking out Russians from competitions.”

A number of Putin supporters have been seen wearing the ‘Z’ symbol to show their support for the war. Russia Today, the state-run TV channel, has even been selling ‘Z’ merchandise.

Across sport, Russian athletes have been banned from competing as the country’s invasion of Ukraine continues.

There are hopes that ceasefires on Sunday will allow civilians to evacuate besieged cities.

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