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Tokyo Organizers Apologize After Olympic Announcer Calls Ukrainian Medalists 'Russian'

Bronze medalists Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk of Ukraine pose with their bronze medals in Tokyo on August 4.
Bronze medalists Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk of Ukraine pose with their bronze medals in Tokyo on August 4.

The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have apologized after an announcer misidentified Ukraine's artistic swimming medalists as being Russian.

The Ukrainian pair of Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk won bronze in their duet free routine event on August 4, finishing behind pairs from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and China.

However, Fiedina and Savchuk were named as ROC competitors by a French-language announcer, causing embarrassment for the organizers.

“It was purely an operational mistake,” organizing committee spokesman Masa Tanaka said of the error on August 4 at the Olympic pool.

The mistake is sensitive because of years-long diplomatic tensions between Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian region of Crimea was forcibly annexed by Russia in 2014.

Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists continues in eastern Ukraine near the shared border between the countries.

Announcements at Olympic venues are typically done in Japanese, English, and French.

At this year’s Euro 2020 tournament, an outline of Ukraine’s national border, including Crimea, was woven into the national football team’s jersey.

Russian football officials complained to UEFA, which allowed the map outline to stay while asking for a slogan to be removed from inside the collar of the jersey.

UEFA rules have prevented Ukrainian and Russian national and club teams from being drawn to play against each other for security reasons since 2014.

During the Olympic opening ceremony on July 23, a Russian TV network cut to commercials just before the Ukrainian athletes entered behind their national flag. The broadcast returned after the Ukrainian team had passed.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

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