Olympic organizers apologize for calling Ukrainian athletes Russian
Officials at the Tokyo Olympics are apologizing for incorrectly saying that two Ukrainian athletes at a medal ceremony were representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk, who won the bronze medal on Wednesday in the artistic swimming duet free routine final, stepped onto the podium as an announcement incorrectly said they were from the ROC.
The ROC is the name given to the group of athletes from Russia, which is officially banned from competing in international sports events until next year for running a state-sponsored doping program.
The Associated Press reported that Tokyo organizing committee spokesman Masa Tanaka later said at the Olympic pool Wednesday, “The French language calling out [of medalists] should have said Team Ukraine, however it said ROC instead.”
Announcements at medal ceremonies, and at other Olympic venues, are usually done in Japanese, English and French.
Tanaka identified the announcement error as “purely an operational mistake,” according to the AP.
“Of course, people noticed that and the person in charge of announcements apologized,” Tanaka explained Wednesday. “I also used this opportunity to express my apology to those who are in the Ukrainian team.”
Russian athletes Svetlana Romashina and Svetlana Kolesnichenko took home the gold medal in the artistic swimming event Wednesday.
The mixup comes amid years-long tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which forcefully annexed Crimea during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
While Russia claims authority over the peninsula along the northern coast of the Black Sea, the international community continues to recognize Crimea as Ukrainian territory.
The tensions have already played out on the Olympic stage this year, with Russian state television cutting to commercials just before the Ukrainian athletes entered behind their national flag during the Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony on July 23.
The AP reported that the Russian broadcaster returned to the program after the Ukrainian team passed.