Stranded Russian speed skating pair finally evacuated home after going ahead with Bali holiday amid Covid-19 pandemic
The Russian Sports Ministry confirmed at the end of last week that 96 people - including athletes, coaches and various specialists - had been evacuated from around the world with the help of the Foreign Ministry and Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya).
That included speed skating pair Chernova and Sokhryakova, who were among the last to return having gone ahead with a trip to the Indonesian island of Bali on March 22 despite the mounting Covid-19 crisis.
The pair were planning to stay on the island until April 2, but found themselves stranded when all routes into Russia were shut off at the end of March.
At the outset of their break, Chernova had said it was "cool" that they had gone ahead with the trip despite the Covid-19 chaos unfolding around the world.
"The fact that [even] in connection with the latest circumstances we didn't give up on our vacation and decided to go until the end is already really cool," Chernova wrote on Instagram.
“Believe me, it was pretty difficult, we were sent various negative news daily.
"We were worried, afraid, but believed that we would fly away and reached our place of relaxation without any problems."Also on rt.com 'Swimming on land' - Olympian Efimova wows with 'mermaid' pool-replacement workout tutorial (VIDEO)
Both shared regular pictures from their idyllic island break, but while there were seemingly no issues arriving, there were far bigger problems getting home.
At the beginning of April, Russian Speed Skating Federation chief Varvara Barysheva confirmed that Chernova and Sokhryakova would not be able to return independently, and would need assistance to be evacuated.
"We're in control of the situation. Unfortunately, it was not in our power to solve the problem," the speed skating chief said.
"The embassy and the consular department are working on this. We, in turn, are in contact with the athletes."
Neither Chernova nor Sokhryakova appeared perturbed by the ordeal of being forced to spend extra time on Bali, even suggesting in reply to one message that they would relish the chance to stay longer.Also on rt.com 'This is how the virus spreads!' Figure skating star Medvedeva responds after being slammed for globetrotting during pandemic
But that did not stop some online for blasting the pair for going ahead with the Bali break despite the raging pandemic, prompting Sokhryakova to hit back.
"Everyone who writes nasty things to me and insults me in comments section and in private messages, discusses me and my 'charms,' wishes me to rot in Bali, etc., I wish you all the best, stick to your own business!" the 29-year-old wrote wrote on Instagram Stories.
The pair were finally found an emergency flight at the end of last week, allowing them to return home - although both are now stuck in mandatory two-week quarantine at the 'Krugloe Ozero' training base for Russian athletes just outside Moscow.
Meanwhile, Chernova has expressed her wish to head back to Bali in quieter times, saying: "I'd still go back to Bali, because despite the fact that we were there for a month, I hardly saw anything.
"We managed to climb a volcano, go to a disco, but we didn’t have time to visit temples or take any surfing lessons.
"It's worth going back when everything is open."Also on rt.com 'We were NOT whining, we paid for our flights home': Russian speed skater speaks after backlash over Bali coronavirus holiday