Athlete wears a war symbol – level 3

15-03-2022 07:00

A Russian gymnast named Ivan Kuliak stood on the podium at Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar. He taped a ‘Z’ symbol on his shirt in the place of the Russian flag.

The ‘Z’ is a pro-war symbol of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and it’s been spreading fast among supporters of the invasion, including politicians and protesters. Media first spotted the symbol on Russian tanks that were on their way to Ukraine, and since then, it’s a way for Russia’s military to identify its own forces. Kuliak wore the symbol on his shirt when he stood next to his Ukrainian rival Illia Kovtun; Illia won a gold medal at the World Cup.

Kuliak is now under investigation, and he’s facing discipline by the International Gymnastics Federation, FIG. FIG announced in late February that the flags of both Russia and Belarus mustn’t be displayed at any of its competition, and Russians and Belarusians were banned from taking part at any FIG competitions.

Difficult words: pro-war (supporting a war), rival (a person who’s competing with another person), discipline (the punishment of people who break the rules).

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