Moscow – Russians expressed outrage Saturday over what they said was “biased” judging in the Olympic rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final after Israel’s Linoy Ashram claimed a victory over three-time world champion Dina Averina, ending two decades of Russian dominance.
The head of Russia’s Olympic Committee said the country would lodge a complaint with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
“We have decided that we will not close our eyes to this situation. We are already preparing an official appeal to the international federation,” Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement on Instagram.
“We would like to receive an explanation over a whole number of issues,” he added, taking issue with “judging.”
Earlier Saturday, Israel’s Ashram claimed victory in the despite a mistake in her closing ribbon routine.
It was the first time a Russian has failed to win the event since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and is arguably one of the biggest surprises in the sport’s history.
Averina said she did not think “it was fair today.”
Prominent Russians accused the judges of bias.
“Dina didn’t lose, she won. But unfortunately the judging was egregiously unjust,” Irina Viner, president of the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation, said in comments to RT, a Kremlin-backed TV channel.
“It was simply a disgrace to rhythmic gymnastics,” said the coach.
Viner claimed that the judges supported Ashram.
“Enough, they got tired of Russia. And the judges decided to support this Israeli woman.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova fumed, accusing the judges of committing “forgery in front of the whole world.”
“Those who started the Russophobic war against the sport could not allow this victory,” Zakharova said on messaging app Telegram.
Prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova also chimed in, calling Saturday’s judging a form of “banditry.”
“I can’t stress enough how unbelievably biased and unfair it was!” she said in a post on Instagram in English.
On Friday, President Vladimir Putin hailed the performance of Russia’s Olympic athletes, who are competing in Tokyo under a neutral banner due to their country’s doping suspension.
Russia are banned from Tokyo 2020 after being found guilty of state-sponsored doping, meaning their athletes cannot use the Russian flag and anthem.
But more than 300 Russian competitors have been allowed to compete under the ROC moniker, and they have won 20 golds to lie fourth in the medals table.
Russian athletes are banned from taking part in major international events with their anthem and under their flag until 2022 following a decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last year.
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