Russia’s decades-long dominance in rhythmic gymnastics was shattered at this yr’s Tokyo Olympics, the place Russian athletes didn’t win the Olympic gold within the particular person all-around occasion for the primary time since 1996. In Sunday’s group competitors, Russia didn’t win gold both, dropping to Bulgaria.
Since authoritarian international locations cherish Olympic competitions as a software to inflame nationalist sentiments and promote their international locations’ world standing, Russia’s defeats had been loudly rejected by a number of pro-Kremlin voices—who resorted to state media’s time-honored tradition of conspiracy-mongering.
Consultants on Russian state tv have been attempting to learn every nation’s Olympic gold medals as tea leaves, suggesting that the result determines the brand new world hegemon. Final week, pro-Kremlin pundits, hosts, and specialists relished the concept of the “weakened” United States being edged out by China. The host of the state TV present 60 Minutes, Olga Skabeeva, pontificated: “You possibly can’t beat China. They’ve essentially the most gold medals.” Desperate to inject Russia’s infamous transphobic rhetoric into the dialog, Skabeeva added: “And none of them are transgenders, so they may maintain procreating.”
To Russia’s dismay, the US finally surpassed China, profitable 39 gold medals and 113 medals general—essentially the most on this planet. And which means, in line with Russian state TV’s logic, that the U.S. will not be relinquishing its world management—which doesn’t sit nicely with Russia.
“Tokyo Olympics are the clearest instance of complete Russophobia. These Olympic Video games stink. World sports activities perpetually ceased being an sincere competitors, turning into an inexpensive political farce,” Skabeeva raged on Monday’s broadcast of 60 Minutes. She baselessly alleged: “On the behest of People, the Worldwide Olympic Committee took away two gold medals from Russia.”
Lawmaker Aleksei Zhuravlyov described different international locations competing within the Tokyo Video games as “a pack of Russophobic beasts, headed by the US.” “People are freaks. Ethical freaks. Why are we even discussing this parade of freaks and perverts?” requested Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma.
Oleg Matveychev, a member of the Russian Skilled Institute for Social Analysis, claimed that Olympic judges’ selections had been swayed by Russophobic propaganda.
“The medal of the Israeli sportswoman is nugatory, she ought to throw it out,” he mentioned, referring to Linoy Ashram’s win over Russian Dina Averina within the rhythmic gymnastics all-around competitors—which the Russian group asked to be overturned. “She hung disgrace round her neck.” He proceeded to claim that American Olympic victories are “nugatory” and likewise are “achieved by dishonest,” calling for all U.S. athletes to be allowed to compete solely within the Paralympics, as a result of so a lot of them are “sick.”
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko told TASS on Sunday that the Russian Olympic Committee despatched a request to the Worldwide Gymnastics Federation about judging within the rhythmic gymnastics. Accusing the judges of being biased, Chernyshenko mentioned: “Naturally, we won’t depart unaddressed conditions when politics had been above goal and truthful appraisal of performances of Russian athletes.”
Showing on state TV channel Rossiya-24, the president of the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation, Irina Viner-Usmanova, claimed: “Throughout these Olympic Video games, for the primary time in historical past there was such horror and mayhem… This final result was deliberate prematurely.” She added that the choice was supposedly made “not based mostly on the efficiency and never based mostly on outcomes, however based mostly on the specified final result.” Viner-Usmanova described the judging of the Olympic occasion in query as “obscene.”
On her Telegram account, Overseas Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained Russia’s losses by alleging that “Russophobic bastards” couldn’t enable Russia to win and subsequently “resorted to fraud in entrance of all the world.” Showing on Monday’s broadcast of 60 Minutes, Zakharova claimed that Russia’s victories and achievements are being usurped by its opponents. “World sports activities are in peril,” she complained, bellyaching about “gross injustice” perpetrated towards Russian athletes in Tokyo.
RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, was so upset with the judges of the gymnastics competitors that she tweeted: “After the slaughter of our gymnasts by judges from completely different international locations, I actually remorse not working for the GRU.” GRU, Russia’s navy intelligence company, is thought to specialize in sabotage and assassinations and was reportedly liable for the tried assassination of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal within the English metropolis of Salisbury in 2018.
Russia’s overblown response has no foundation in actuality. The primary criticism towards the gold medal victory of Israel’s Ashram is that she dropped her ribbon over the past train, with Russian sports activities figures and commentators claiming that such a mess-up would have made it unattainable for her to win. Nonetheless, Averina, the Russian silver medalist in Tokyo, won gold on the 2018 world championship even supposing she had dropped her ribbon, beating none apart from Ashram into silver. This yr, Ashram’s routine exceeded Averina’s in its stage of problem, with cumulative factors securing her victory—even after the deduction for her error.
Disregarding the info, the pinnacle of state-funded RT, Simonyan, described the Olympic judges as “beasts,” posted their names on her Twitter account, and known as for the Russians in Tokyo to spit at their backs. Simonyan insisted that Ashram can “stay a human being” provided that she returns the gold medal. Because of the vicious smear marketing campaign waged by Moscow, Ashram’s social media pages have been flooded by hateful feedback from resentful Russians.
Other than wounded delight, Russia’s accusations of rigged Olympics serve one other essential political agenda: nurturing the narrative of fortress beneath siege to advertise nationwide unity.
Showing on Monday’s 60 Minutes, Professor Oleg Barabanov of the Russian Academy of Sciences explicitly articulated this approach: “I learn a variety of feedback on sports activities boards to decipher public opinions on varied subjects. I used to be amazed how unanimously our nation supported Dina and [twin sister] Arina Averina on this unfair judging… The most important final result is that our complete nation noticed and understood that there’s an ongoing anti-Russian marketing campaign, that we’re encircled by the ring of enemies… not solely in line with the tales of TV propagandists, however in actual life. From this viewpoint, these judges who misjudged Dina Averina did an enormous, helpful factor for the consolidation of Russian society.”