Russian gymnast displays Z war symbol while sharing podium with Ukraine athlete

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak was seen displaying a ‘Z’ war symbol whilst sharing the podium with Ukrainian athlete Illia Kovtun at the Gymnastics World Cup.

Kuliak – whose actions have been described as ‘shocking’ – displayed the letter ‘Z’ on his chest, a symbol that has been draped on Russian tanks and vehicles during their invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian gymnast took to the podium on Sunday after winning the bronze medal in Doha, whilst Ukraine’s Kovtun took gold.

His seemingly pro-war actions have been slammed by many across the world, and a statement from The International Gymnastics Federation confirmed disciplinary actions will be taken against Kuliak.

The governing body said: “The International Gymnastics Federation confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against male artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak (RUS) following his shocking behaviour at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar.”

The FIG had already confirmed that from Monday, all Russian and Belarusian athletes would be banned from competition following their nation’s invasion.

The statement continued: “The FIG adopted further measures against Russia and Belarus on 4 March. 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.”

The sanctions mean that Russian and Belarusian athletes set to compete at this week’s Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Azerbaijan will now miss out on the Baku event.

An initial FIG statement said: “Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, are not allowed to take part in FIG competitions or FIG-sanctioned competitions from 7 March 2022 until further notice.

“This means that athletes and officials from these two federations will not participate in the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan from 10 to 13 March 2022.”

The FIG joins a long list of sporting governing bodies that have sanctioned Russia and Belarus and their athletes.

In football, UEFA stripped St. Petersburg of hosting this year’s Champions League final, whilst FIFA banned all Russian teams from competing in their competitions, including cancelling their up and coming World Cup play-off against Poland.

In Formula 1, the FIA have cancelled this season’s Russian Grand Prix, whilst driver Nikita Mazepin has been sacked from racing by Haas.

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