An unexpected photo of a Russian and a Ukrainian blew up the Internet. Even the IOC had to speak

The 2022 Olympics remain the last major international tournament in which the Russian team was able to take part in its own right. The Beijing tournament, despite the tense world political situation, has become, in the spirit of the Games, sometimes unity and respite for athletes from various countries.

It’s hard to believe now, but representatives of Russia and Ukraine also held a friendship action in China. The brilliant gesture by fellow freestylers Ilya Burov and Alexander Abramenko instantly became a hit in the press.

Athletes put friendship above politics.

“My friend won a medal”

Alexander Abramenko and Ilya Burov successfully performed at the Beijing Winter Olympics. The Ukrainian took second place in ski stunts and the Russian took bronze in the same discipline.

However, the most interesting thing happened already during the awards ceremony. During the traditional ceremony, the athletes took to the podium, but contrary to many expectations, they did not avoid each other. Alexander and Ilya hugged and took a picture together with flags: Ukraine and the ROC flag.

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– My friend won a medal. Like four years ago on the podium, they congratulated each other. Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians stuck together, we have always been friends, – Burov said at the championship.

Audiences exploded as freestylers’ social media was filled with negative comments. Most importantly, Abramenko got him, whom the Ukrainian public called a traitor to the motherland and forbade him to return to the country. However, there were also those who appreciated the kind gesture and were not stingy with praise. One such person was IOC President Thomas Bach:

– In the stunts, medal winner Alexander Abramenko from Ukraine and Ilya Burov, representing the Russian Olympic Committee, warmly embraced each other, celebrating their success. What a beautiful symbol these days,” Bach said at a press conference.

Longtime friendship and hugs in Korea

This isn’t the only time longtime friends put nationality on the back burner. Podium hugs happened at the previous Pyeongghang Games. Then the Ukrainian won gold and the Russian bronze. In a fit of emotion, Abramenko began to embrace Ilya and wrapped the flag around him.

Then the wave of criticism was not as big as in 2022, but the Ukrainian athlete could not avoid the negative. However, Abramenko did not deviate from his principles.

– We athletes never talk about politics among ourselves, only about sports. I have known my colleagues from different countries, including from Russia, for many years, we are friends, we are never offended. I wrapped Ilya with our flag in a fit of strong spiritual emotions, congratulated him on the bronze award. You shouldn’t look for political moments here” Abramenko said.

Burov and Abramenko have been friends since 2007, that is, from the very beginning of their sports career. The freestylers first met at a training camp in the Czech Republic and subsequently repeatedly crossed paths at international competitions. The strong tandem did not break down and still exists today, despite all external difficulties.


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