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Rio Swimmer Says Detractors Crumpled Russian Flag, Left On Floor

  • RFE/RL

Russian competitors in synchronized swimming Anastasia Davydova, Natalia Ishchenko, Aleksandra Patskevich, and Daria Korobova (left to right)

Russian competitors in synchronized swimming Anastasia Davydova, Natalia Ishchenko, Aleksandra Patskevich, and Daria Korobova (left to right)

Russian synchronized swimming champion Aleksandra Patskevich said her country's national flag was stripped from the wall and left crumpled on the floor on her first day at the Rio Olympics.

It was the latest example of what some Russians have complained is an "anti-Russian atmosphere" in Rio following revelations of state-sponsored doping that dominated media coverage in the run-up to the Games and led to doping bans on dozens of Russian athletes.

Russian competitors have been booed and jeered at multiple events, particularly in the pool competitions where tensions between U.S. and Russian swimmers have been reminiscent of the Cold War.

"Day 1 was unbelievably long, hard and grueling," Patskevich, who won gold in the women's team competition at London 2012, wrote on Instagram on August 12.

"Everyone is asking us about attitudes towards Russian athletes? Why we should keep quiet -- they are not respectful! Judge for yourselves -- this morning started with us finding the flag torn down and crumpled in a heap outside our door."

The Rio synchronized-swimming competition starts on August 14. Russia won both the team and duet events in London and has won eight Olympic gold medals in the sport.

"We won't be broken or provoked," Patskevich said. "We smile all the more and work even harder."

The Russian Olympic Committee brought the flag incident to the attention of the Olympic Organizing Committee on August 12, but Igor Kazikov, the head of the Russian delegation at the Games, said he will not file a formal protest.

"The whole thing is not worth raising a wave of protest or discontent," he said, insisting it was a relatively small matter. "A cleaning lady or somebody else could have removed the pennant."

With reporting by Reuters and TASS
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