GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Although the Russian flag won’t be raised at the women’s figure skating medal ceremony for Olympic champion Alina Zagitova, the world still knows where she is from, silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva said on Friday.
Russian athletes are banned from competing for their country at the Pyeongchang Games due to allegations of systematic doping cover-ups at the 2014 Sochi Games.
They are competing as neutrals, called Olympic Athletes from Russia, unable to have the Russian anthem played in medal ceremonies or to wear their country’s uniform.
Russian gold medallists stand on the podium with the Olympic anthem playing and the Olympic flag raised above them.
“It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are,” Medvedeva told reporters when asked how she feels about the absence of her country’s flag at the medal ceremony.
“People know who we are and the spectators in the stands proved that today.”
Zagitova, who won gold on Friday after finishing 1.31 points ahead of Medvedeva, declined to comment.
While resting a fractured foot in December, Medvedeva travelled to IOC headquarters in Switzerland along with Russian sports authorities to present a case for her country’s inclusion in the Games.
Medvedeva told IOC members at the time that she could not imagine competing in Pyeongchang without the Russian flag. She later said she was happy the IOC had compromised to let some Russians take part in the Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it may allow the Russian Olympic delegation to march with Russia’s flag and in national uniform at the Games closing ceremony on Sunday, provided they comply with rules on neutrality.
Sources in Pyeongchang told Reuters the IOC is edging closer to allowing Russian athletes to do so.
Russia’s hopes of a full return to full Olympic status suffered a serious blow this week when a Russian curling medallist was found guilty of an anti-doping violation.
Reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber,; Editing by Ed Osmond