MOSCOW — Russia’s Olympic crew is competing overseas in unmarked uniforms with out the nation’s flag — not in contrast to the Russian Military on its unacknowledged army incursions, as one joke making the rounds in Moscow notes.
When a Russian wins a gold medal and takes the highest spot on the rostrum, the nation’s nationwide anthem doesn’t play. As an alternative, a portion of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 celebrates the winner.
“Allow them to hearken to classical music,” Russia’s International Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, stated in a video the ministry launched to cheer on the not-exactly-Russian crew.
With humor and pleasure, Russians are gloating over their athletes’ many medals this summer time regardless of a prohibition on nationwide symbols on the Tokyo Summer season Olympics — a punishment for egregious previous doping infractions.
“Will this cease our guys?” Tina Kandelaki, a social media influencer, wrote on Instagram. “No. The Olympics turn into a type of conditions if you need to show and present to all people that you’re Russian.”
Certainly, sports activities followers and sports activities commentators are having no hassle seeing via the skinny fiction of the odd, bureaucratic moniker of their crew — R.O.C., an acronym for the Russian Olympic Committee.
“No one is concerned in any respect by this case,” Dmitri Kozika, a bartender at Probka, a sports activities bar, stated of Russian sports activities followers.
Via the nice and cozy twilight of a latest summer time night in Moscow, followers sat at leather-upholstered bar stools, sipped beers and stored a watch on replays from Tokyo. When Russians rack up gold, which occurs usually sufficient at any Olympics, the patrons cheer, Mr. Kozika stated.
If something, he stated, the additional scrutiny of their crew, which needed to move a rigorous drug clearance program, has given Russian sports activities followers a restored sense of pleasure within the victories that adopted. “They checked our guys actually totally,” Mr. Kozika stated. “They’re clear.”
Roman Pritula, an ambulance medic taking a well-deserved break on the bar from Covid-19 obligation, equally shrugged off the Russian crew’s unusual identify.
“It doesn’t forestall us from being proud,” he stated. “It doesn’t matter in the event that they compete beneath the Olympic flag. They’re nonetheless Russians. And after they win, it causes optimistic feelings.”
And even officers who as soon as complained bitterly concerning the doping restrictions have taken to evenly poking enjoyable at what was meant to be a humbling state of affairs.
The International Ministry video, for instance, ended with the thumping drums of the rock music by Queen “We Will Rock You” — which is rendered in writing, after all, as “We Will R.O.C. You.”
The commanding victory over the USA in girls’s crew gymnastics, the pinnacle of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, stated proudly, will encourage a brand new era of younger Russian ladies to turn into gymnasts.
The Russians Lilia Akhaimova, Viktoria Listunova, Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova gained gold medals after the American star Simone Biles pulled out of the competitors, saying she had turn into dangerously disoriented throughout a vault and wasn’t mentally ready to proceed.
“Truthfully, I’m filled with emotion,” Mr. Pozdnyakov informed the Tass information company. “It’s been a very long time since we dominated like this in gymnastics. It’s actually vital in crew disciplines, because it evokes and fills with spirit the opposite groups and motivates the younger.”
The sports activities commentator for state Channel 1, Dmitry Guberniyev, was so impressed by the Russian — sorry, R.O.C. — victory that he urged declaring a nationwide vacation.
“We simply want a Russia-wide celebration,” he stated. “The crew was simply unbelievable. We’re creating miracles.”
Lidiya Ivanova, a commentator on Match TV, a Russian sports activities channel, couldn’t curb her enthusiasm because the Russian feminine gymnasts gained the gold.
“What are you reaching, our ladies! You’re the finest since you are Russians! You defended the consideration of the nation,” she stated. “I am keen on you. All people adores you.”
And Russians have extra to stay up for from the R.O.C.: Some occasions that Russian feminine athletes have traditionally dominated with crushing mastery, together with creative swimming and rhythmic gymnastics, lie forward.
Russians have pointed with pleasure to the actions of a feminine fencer, Marta Martyanova, regardless of the identify of her crew.
Ms. Martyanova refused to bow out regardless of a leg trauma painful sufficient to go away her crying and hopping on one foot. At that time no substitutes have been allowed within the crew competitors, and withdrawal would have price the Russians a shot at a medal, so her stoic endurance saved the day. Russia’s crew went on to win the gold.
“A real younger lady hero,” the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, stated.
The doping restrictions have hung over Russian sports activities for years, to the purpose Russian sports activities followers not listen, Aleksei Durnovo, a commentator for Telesport, stated in an interview.
“They simply need to watch sports activities, not take into consideration what is going on in medical laboratories,” he stated.
The roots of the restrictions lie in one of many worst dishonest scandals in sports activities historical past: In the course of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi there was a marketing campaign by coaches, athletes and the Russian safety providers to swap contaminated urine samples for clear ones.
The violations ultimately got here to contain greater than 1,000 athletes, coaches and sports activities officers in Russia and led to blanket bans on Russia’s competing in worldwide sports activities, together with the Olympics.
Russia spent years attempting to overturn the bans and in December gained a partial victory within the Courtroom of Arbitration for Sport, which cleared the best way for 330 Russians to compete in Tokyo, although not in nationwide uniform, over the objections of antidoping officers.
Many Russians are simply blissful to see their gymnasts, swimmers, equestrians, archers and different athletes have a shot at medals. However on a darker notice, beating the doping restrictions for some Russians additionally turned one thing to cheer for this summer time.
Russian propaganda and even a few of the crew members have been thumbing their noses on the doping regulators’ flimsy type of punishment.
A wall mural in Moscow, for instance, reveals a martial arts practitioner in a kimono sporting a bear emblem flipping a competitor in a kimono with the insignia of WADA, the World Anti-Doping Company.
The Russian creative swimming crew tried to compete in bear-themed swimsuits, solely to have that plan vetoed by Olympic officers for the apparent reference to a Russian nationwide image.
A crew member, Alla Shishkina, complained bitterly, RT reported. “This irritated us,” she stated. “Bears dwell in lots of nations, not solely in Russia. This might have been any bear! A grizzly, a panda, something. However they banned it only for our nation.”
However she added, “We simply bought a bit of upset within the altering room, that was all. Crucial factor is to carry out effectively.”
Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.