Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak slammed for wearing war symbol 'Z' near Ukrainian athlete

Illia Kovtun of Ukraine, who won gold, refused to shake hands with Ivan, who won bronze

                            Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak slammed for wearing war symbol 'Z' near Ukrainian athlete
Ivan Kuliak faces controversy for wearing the war symbol 'Z' on his breast in Doha World Cup 2022 (Photo: Claro Sports)

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, 20, has been facing heavy criticism for his apparent ‘pro-war’ display of the symbol ‘Z’ on his costume. The athlete's controversial display comes at a time when the world is shocked at the death count within 11 days of the ongoing war. Sports fans are now demanding that the athlete be stripped of the medal he won before he went on to display the symbol.

Ivan Kuliak was placed third on the parallel bars at the World Cup event in Doha, Qatar. Illia Kovtun of Ukraine won gold and Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan won silver while Kuliak bagged a bronze. After the competition, Illia shook his hand with Milad but declined to face Ivan. Ivan’s apparently brazen display of pro-war sentiments stood in stark contrast with Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev's courageous expression of his opposition towards the war only a few days ago. When Ivan got onto the podium, it was clear that he was wearing a 'Z' emblem on his uniform. Supporters of Vladimir Putin have been seen wearing clothing and badges bearing the letter 'Z,' indicating their support for the invasion of Ukraine. On Putin's tanks and death machines entering Ukraine, the sign - which depicts the Russian word for victory - has been apparent. It is often regarded as the symbol of war. The young athlete's display immediately made it to the headlines and invited immense backlash from sports lovers.


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Ukrainian Gymnast Illiav Kovtun wins the gold medal and takes home the pride (Photo: Claro Sports)


Many Twitter users slammed Ivan for being so insensitive about the war. As the war has already caused at least 752 civilian casualties, with 227 killed and 525 injured, Ivan's act has doused the hopes of many. One user on Twitter wrote, “Just saw that Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak wore 'Z' symbol at the World Cup in Doha yesterday to show his support for the war in Ukraine. Can't think of a more disgusting thing to do and a better reason to ban Russia from sporting events altogether instead of current half measures” while another wrote, “That's a simple one to resolve, strip him of his medal & then ban them from the sport, which should have been in place from the start.”




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