Organizers apologize to Ukraine for calling them Russian

Aug 4, 2021, 10:33 AM | Updated: 11:06 pm

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers apologized Thursday after Ukrainian athletes in artistic swimming were announced as Russians at a medal ceremony.

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

The mistake is sensitive because of years-long diplomatic tensions between Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian region of Crimea was annexed by Russia during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists continue in the eastern Donbas region near the shared border between the countries.

Russian athletes Svetlana Romashina and Svetlana Kolesnichenko won the artistic swimming duet competition on Wednesday. The Ukrainian duo of Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk took bronze but were announced on the podium as representing ROC, the acronym for the Russian Olympic Committee.

“The French language calling out (of medalists) should have said Team Ukraine, however it said ROC instead,” Tanaka said later in Japanese.

Announcements at Olympic venues are typically done in Japanese, English and French, which is the home language of the modern Olympic movement.

“Of course, people noticed that and the person in charge of announcements apologized,” Tanaka said through a translator. “I also used this opportunity to express my apology to those who are in the Ukrainian team.”

More than seven years after the annexation, Crimea is still recognized as Ukrainian territory in international law.

At this year’s European Championship, an outline of Ukraine’s national border, including Crimea, was woven into the national soccer team’s jersey. Russian soccer officials complained to European soccer’s governing body, which allowed the map outline to stay while asking for a slogan to be removed from inside the collar of the jersey.

European soccer rules have prevented Ukrainian and Russian national and club teams from being drawn to play against each other for security reasons since 2014. Olympic athletes from the two countries routinely compete in the same events, however.

During the 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.


More AP Olympics: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Brazil's Neymar celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer m...
Associated Press

World Cup Viewer’s Guide: Quarterfinalists bid for title

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — After non-stop soccer for the past two weeks, the World Cup is taking a small break. There will be two days of rest before the quarterfinals start in Qatar with at least one surprising team still in contention to win soccer’s biggest prize. Morocco produced the latest upset in a tournament […]
1 day ago
Spain's players react after the penalty shootout at the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between ...
Associated Press

Young Spain squad and its ‘tiki-taka’ stumble at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Spain lost to Morocco 3-0 in a penalty shootout in the round of 16 at the World Cup on Tuesday, failing to make it to the quarterfinals for the third straight time since winning its last world title in South Africa in 2010. La Roja also lost in a shootout in […]
1 day ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo walks during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal a...
Associated Press

Ronaldo loses Portugal spot to sully World Cup journey

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — So, the dream is still alive for Cristiano Ronaldo. Soccer’s most prolific modern-day scorer might yet, at the age of 37 and probably playing in his last World Cup, claim the one major title to elude him in a career like no other. It didn’t quite feel that way, though, as […]
1 day ago
Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka, right, and Switzerland's midfielder Denis Zakaria, left, rea...
Associated Press

Switzerland falls again to first World Cup knockout punch

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Switzerland exited the World Cup at the round of 16 stage, just as it usually does in the modern era. A 6-1 rout by Portugal on Tuesday left little space for feeling that progress was made, even if the squad was hit by a bout of sickness in Qatar. Switzerland’s quest […]
1 day ago
Morocco's head coach Walid Regragui is thrown in the air at the end of the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

The next World Cup will jump to 48 teams. Is bigger better?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The next World Cup will be the biggest ever after world soccer body FIFA took the leap from a 32-team field to 48 teams in 2026. It means more of soccer’s so-called “little teams” that didn’t make it to Qatar will be given a chance of a lifetime when the tournament […]
1 day ago
A sunken vehicle sit in the Mesaieed sea-line at the GMC dive site in Mesaieed, Qatar Wednesday, No...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup fans explore Qatar’s artificial reefs

MESAIEED, Qatar (AP) — Thirty feet (9 meters) deep into the waters of the Persian Gulf, angel fish swim in and out of rusted trucks and SUVs. Plastic bags and water bottles, blown in from the nearby shoreline, float across the ocean floor. World Cup fans in Qatar hoping to see some of the Gulf’s […]
1 day ago
Organizers apologize to Ukraine for calling them Russian