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By Andrew Guan

In the Olympics, Russia competes without marked uniforms and the country flag. But when a Russian athlete takes the gold medal on the podium, no national anthem spews forth. Instead, a small section of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 erupts from the speakers. “Let them listen to classical music,” says Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

The Russians are gloating over their athletes’ successes this summer despite a restriction on national symbols at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, a severe consequence for past nefarious events. “Will this stop our guys?” asks Tina Kandelaki, a social media influencer, on Instagram. “No. The Olympics become one of those situations when you want to prove and show to everybody that you are Russian.”

In other words, the scrupulous inspection of their team through a series of drug tests, has given Russian athletes an enlarged sense of pride in the victories that followed. “They checked our guys really thoroughly,” says Dmitri Kozika, a bartender at a sports bar. “They are clean.”

Fans feel the same way. “It doesn’t prevent us from being proud,” says Roman Pritula, an ambulance medic taking a break from the Covid-19 pandemic. “It doesn’t matter if they compete under the Olympic flag. They are still Russians. And when they win, it causes positive emotions.”

Even officials who have unpleasant experiences about the restrictions are participating in the boasting. For example, at the Foreign Ministry video conference, “We Will Rock You” ended the meeting, but of course spelled as “We Will R.O.C. You.” R.O.C. stands for Russian Olympic Committee.

Their victory against the United States’ womens’ gymnastics team plays a huge role in Russia’s relishment. Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the head of R.O.C., says that this victory will inspire a “new generation of young girls to become gymnasts.” Lilia Akhaimova, Viktoria Listunova, Angelina Melnikova, and Vladislava Urazova each earned gold medals after American competitor Simone Biles pulled out of the competition.

And the fun doesn’t end there. Dmitry Guberniyev, the sports commentator for state Channel 1, was so inspired by the victory that he suggested issuing a national holiday. “We just need a Russia-wide celebration. The team was unbelievable. We are creating miracles.” Lidiya Ivanova, a commentator on Match TV, felt the same way. “What are you achieving, our girls! You are the best because you are Russians! You defended the honor of the country. I adore you. Everyone adores you.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/01/world/europe/russia-ban-olympics.html

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