The head coach of Russia’s invincible synchronized swimming squad, Tatyana Pokrovskaya, says her athletes can sing the national anthem while standing on the Olympic podium to remind everyone what country they represent.
The renowned coach, who has led Russia to five consecutive Olympic titles, bemoaned the latest decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to ban Russian national symbols for two years, while noting that this will not make the national team less motivated to compete for medals.
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“This doesn’t mean that we will relax and stop training. We will continue getting ready for the Olympic Games where we will fight for medals. Of course, it’s insulting that we will have to compete without the national flag, but the most important thing is to climb on top of the Olympic podium where we can sing the national anthem ourselves,” Pokrovskaya said.
“The decision is not quite clear to us, but if we have been punished, they must have had reasons for that. But we will not be upset, we will stay healthy and will proceed working. There are not so many teams in our sport; everyone will know what country we represent.”
Russia’s synchronized swimmers, who are planning to defend their Olympic crown next year in Tokyo, haven’t lost any major tournament since the 2000 Sydney Games, where they claimed two gold medals: in the duet and team events.
On Thursday, CAS announced it had reduced Russia’s international sports ban from four to two years on appeal, but the decision still means the Russian flag and anthem will be absent from the next two editions of the Olympic Games: Tokyo in the summer of 2021, and the Winter Games in Beijing in February 2022.
Russian athletes who are cleared to appear at the Olympics and any world championships will have to do so as neutrals, without the national flag and anthem.