Russian gymnast sports 'Z' symbol on shirt while sharing podium with Ukrainian winner, sparks outrage

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Mar 07, 2022, 05:13 PM(IST)

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak was seen sporting 'Z' symbol on his shirt. Photograph:( Twitter )

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Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak sparked outrage after he was seen sporting a 'Z' symbol on his shirt while sharing the podium with Ukraine's Kovtun Illia at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha on Sunday.


Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak sparked massive outrage on Sunday (March 06) after he was seen sporting an insignia showcasing support to his country in their ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Kuliak had a 'Z' symbol engraved on his shirt as he stood on the podium to collect his bronze medal in the parallel bars at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha, Qatar.

Kuliak had won the bronze medal finishing behind Ukraine's Kovtun Illia, who bagged the gold medal to stand on top of the podium. A Kuliak shared the podium with his Ukrainian rival, he had the symbol 'Z' placed on his shirt. At a time when several Russian athletes have stood up against their country's actions in Ukraine, Kuliak's behaviour has left many in shock.

The letter 'Z' reportedly symbolically represents 'victory' in Russian. Though the letter does not exist in the Cyrillic Russian alphabet, it has been used as a symbol for victory in the Ukraine war. Russia's tanks and military vehicles also have the symbol 'Z' engraved on them as they wreak havoc in Ukraine.



Reacting to Kuliak's actions, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to take disciplinary action against the Russian gymnast while terming his behaviour as 'shocking'. The FIG had already announced that Russian and Belarusian athletes, officials and judges will not be allowed to take part in any FIG-related events from Monday (March 07).

"The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Kuliak following his shocking behaviour at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar,” FIG said in a statement.

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“The FIG adopted further measures against Russia and Belarus on 4 March,” FIG said in a statement. “From 7 March 2022, Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, are not allowed to take part in FIG competitions or FIG-sanctioned competitions," it added.

Several sporting bodies including the likes of the International Olympics Committee, FIFA and UEFA among others have sanctioned Russia in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. The sporting bodies have banned Russia from hosting any events and the Russian athletes from taking part in any sporting events organised by them.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has received widespread criticism from across the globe as millions of Ukrainians have had to flee their country due to the war.

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