Persecuted Russians respond by getting in touch with the love for their country and broad-hearted grace -- cheering on even the Americans
At these Olympics, Russian fans add a little color to the drab world of OAR
GANGNEUNG, South Korea — They filled one corner of the upper deck at the Gangneung Ice Arena, a wildly exuberant group of roughly 150 Russian figure skating fans who sang along to the music, cheered all competitors, brandished their nation’s flag and sported outlandish wigs in patriotic colors of white, blue and red.
They had their own slogan, too, that was stitched onto their caps and scarves and spelled out by 15 among them, seated side by side and three rows deep, each sporting a red T-shirt with a single letter. Taken together, it read: “Russia In My Heart.”
The International Olympic Committee can do nothing to inhibit Russian spectators’ pride in their athletes at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
And it wasn’t just Russian skaters who earned their applause. Russian fans swayed in unison and gyrated in their seats as American ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani moved from the Mambo, to the Cha-cha and the Samba.“We are for all the world,” Stupkin said. “And we hope the world will be for us.”
What Ban? Patriotic Fervor Grips Russia’s Celebration House in South Korea
GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Russia isn’t supposed to be at these Olympic Games, and yet the country is very much here.
There are nearly 170 Russian athletes in South Korea and even a converted seafront wedding hall decked in all manner of Russian paraphernalia that is serving as Russia’s social headquarters.
At about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Russia’s national anthem filled the hall, known simply as “Sports House.” Many of the two dozen people rose to their feet and sang along with gusto.
They were celebrating a first Russian medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics, a short-track speedskating bronze won by Semen Elistratov. Elistratov was unable to parade in his nation’s flag at the medal ceremony, under restrictions imposed by the International Olympic Committee for Russia’s state-backed doping scheme.
Being unable to use the word Russia or the Olympic rings in the facility’s logo appears to be the only restriction at the house.
A few days into the Games, the feeling of Russian pride here is unmistakable. A giant nesting doll plastered onto a wall identifies the entrance, and a flight of stairs leads into a main room filled with memorabilia evoking Russian Olympic success and culture. Guests can grab tea from large samovars before viewing an exhibit of jerseys and medals from the country’s hockey successes, dating to the Soviet period when the Red Machine ruled.
For a country that continues to receive international condemnation for the doping conspiracy, Russia isn’t intent on keeping a low profile.
At Russia fan house, country colors fly high
“We are all Russian patriots, all athletes. It doesn’t matter how we are called: Olympic Athletes from Russia or Team Russia. It doesn’t matter because our homeland, it’s Russia.”
On the walls of the Sports House, sketches of Russian nesting dolls known as ‘matryoshki’ clutch hockey sticks, snowboards and traditional musical instruments.
Russian pop songs blare from speakers as women in short dresses twirl through the room. Fans wearing Russian sports jerseys brandish their country’s tricolor flags.The venue, which uses ‘Russia in My Heart’ as a slogan for the team, also puts Russian and Soviet sporting prowess on display.
Cardboard cutouts of hockey players from the legendary Soviet team and pictures of current and retired Russian athletes hang throughout the premises.
The athletes, who were not allowed by the IOC to compete at the Games, were also not forgotten.
A picture of a jubilant short-track speed skater Viktor Ahn, a six-time Olympic gold medalist, crossing the finish line first at the Sochi Games found place.
Earlier on Friday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed 47 appeals from Russian athletes and coaches, including Ahn, to participate in the Games.