If we don’t want to look at neutral flag at Olympics, maybe it’s time to get the red one?

A blogger offered Russian athletes to compete at the Olympics in a uniform with the USSR insignia

If we don’t want to look at neutral flag at Olympics, maybe it’s time to get the red one? Photo: mirputeshestvij.mediasole.ru (Olympics in Moscow in 1980)

Realnoe Vremya's columnist Vadim Manukyan launched a petition where he offered Russian athletes to compete at the Olympics in Pyeongyang in a uniform with the USSR insignia. In his column, the blogger discusses the uneasy relationship of politics and sport and also explained the sense of the initiative he had offered.

''Many of my acquaintances are disappointed with the fact that we won't see a Russian insignia in the competition''

Social networks and the Internet, in general, have a magic possibility of influencing everything happening around us. And if your statement in social networks could be called 'the voice of one crying in the desert' several years ago, now the situation has completely changed. In addition, sites for publication of petitions should be thanked for it. After launching a petition, subscribers often start to be actively interested in it by reposting and commenting. At the same time, the number of signatures increases, then the media join the process. In the end, 'the voice of one crying' becomes a mass occurrence that the whole country knows about.

I regularly write petitions linked with our favourite television, in some cases the outcry allows to influence Russian TV in a positive way. This time my petition is connected with television only indirectly – we're speaking about sport, precisely the Olympics in Pyeongyang. Many of my acquaintances are disappointed with the fact that we won't see a Russian insignia in the competition (some people even aren't going to watch the competition because of this). All this situation seems to me unfair: I'd like the athletes not to pay for what they have no guilt for. For this reason, if we don't want to look at the white neutral flag on TV, maybe it's time to get the red one and remind about the insignia of the already non-existing country, the USSR, during the Olympics?

Many of my acquaintances are disappointed with the fact that we won't see a Russian insignia in the competition (some people even aren't going to watch the competition because of this). All this situation seems to me unfair: I'd like the athletes not to pay for what they have no guilt for.'' Photo: biathlonspb.ru

No, the goal of this is not to frighten the world. Actually, foreigners buy our ear flap hats and T-shirts with the Soviet emblem with pleasure. In general, the practice shows this topic still unites many Russians across the country. Look at the success of Going Vertical film – it became the biggest grossing film in the history of Russian cinematography. Our team managed to show there that we can win a match with morals and will and believe in it till the last second. Series linked with the era of the USSR also have gathered many spectators in front of the screen in recent time, which are proved by regular TV viewing statistics.

''It is 'political and sports sanctions' if you like''

I will note, by the way, director of the Big Moscow State Circus Edgard Zapashny has recently announced an analogous idea – about the USSR insignia – in social networks. Like many Russians, he is irritated because the national team of Russia will go to the Olympics as neutrals with a definition 'Olympic athletes from Russia'. He offered to write USSR on T-shirts – considering that there is no such a country any more, it turns out there is nothing to carp at. This insignia can be forbidden but at the same time, everybody knows that Russia is a legal successor of the Soviet Union.

If speaking about the first reaction to my petition, it is mainly positive. However, there are representatives of the liberal community in comments who don't share this idea – they trace 'militancy' in it. Yes, many people will say that sport should be outside politics. But let's speak frankly: what happened to our national team is not only the fault of some careless sports functionaries but consequences of the latest tendencies on the world stage linked with Russia. It is 'political and sports sanctions' if you like.

''Precisely elite sport motivates and mobilises anyway, while this effect is many times bigger for people with disabilities.'' Photo: daypic.ru

I will note that some IOC representatives openly say it would be correct if athletes competed at the Olympics for themselves, not for their countries, to exclude state pressure on athletes. It seems they decided to start their 'experiment' with right Russia. If no country had its flag and anthem at the Olympics at the same time, it would, undoubtedly, shock the sports community, but there wouldn't be a feeling of unfairness.

The situation with Paralympians is far worse. They already missed one Paralympics, and missing the second would be sufficient demotivation – precisely elite sport motivates and mobilises anyway, while this effect is many times bigger for people with disabilities.

Based on this multifaceted and unclear situation, in my petition, I offered to advise and solve whether we needed the USSR insignia at the Olympics to support the athletes. In any case, the leader of the country will have the last word – anyway, he rules Russia, the country that is a legal successor of the USSR, exactly he.

By Vadim Manukyan