The sports body said that the athlete must also return the bronze medal.
Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak is banned for a year for displaying the ‘Z’ war symbol at the Apparatus World Cup in Qatar, the Disciplinary Commission of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) announced on Wednesday.
Kuliak wore the controversial symbol as he stood next to Ukraine’s gold medalist, Illia Kovtun, after winning the bronze medal in the parallel bars final in March. The letter ‘Z’ is part of the Cyrillic Russian alphabet and is used by Russian forces as an identifier for their tanks and vehicles in Ukraine.
The 20-year-old’s move displayed his support for the invasion of Ukraine. People in social media have expressed their outrage on different platforms, calling on relevant authorities to take action against him.
The GEF said that Kuliak violated the International Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG) codes of discipline, ethics, and conduct.
“Kuliak is not allowed to participate in any FIG-sanctioned event or competition organised by an affiliated FIG member federation for one year as of the date of this decision,” said the GEF.
The sports body said that the athlete must also return the bronze medal, noting that the athlete has a right to appeal the decision to the GEF Appeal Tribunal within 21 days of being notified about it.
“If the protective measures keeping Russian athletes from competing are still in place on 17 May 2023, the ban shall continue and expire six months after the removal of said measures,” added GEF.
FIG is amongst several sports governing bodies that took action against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The organisation banned Russian and Belarusian flags and anthems in all of its competitions.
Athletes from both countries are also not allowed to wear their countries’ official uniforms, whilst cancelling its events in Moscow and Minsk.
FIFA and UEFA had taken similar action against Russia by expelling it from all international football.
Ongoing Russian invasion
The ‘Z’ symbol was first seen in February, sprayed on Russian military vehicles entering the Donetsk region. This was shortly before the full-scale invasion started on 24 February.
Some experts said the symbol represented “za pobedy”, which directly translates to “victory” in Russian.
As of 17 May, Russia has killed at least 3,752 civilians, including 68 children, in Ukraine per figures shared by the UN. The actual number is believed to be higher as the invasion continues.
The organisation said that most civilian casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons, including heavy artillery and missiles. Russian forces are now attempting to fully capture the east and south of Ukraine.
According to Al Jazeera, Russian troops have encircled the port city of Mariupol for more than 10 weeks as it attempts to seize the territory. Senior commanders from Ukraine denied claims by Russia’s defence ministry over the surrender of 694 Ukrainian fighters surrendered in the city.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian officials confirmed that more than 250 fighters surrendered without mentioning the total of the remaining personnel, as Reuters reported on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, the subject is very sensitive and there is a very fragile set of talks going on today, therefore I cannot say anything more,” said Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko.
More than 400,000 people have been sieged in the city for almost three months. Mariupol is the biggest city that Russia has captured.