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1 Oct, 2021 16:36

‘This was a PROVOCATION’: Russian wrestling stars removed from flight in face mask row on way to World Championships

‘This was a PROVOCATION’: Russian wrestling stars removed from flight in face mask row on way to World Championships

The head coach of Russia’s wrestling team has hit out at 'provocations' after members of the team including double Olympic champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev were removed from a flight in a row over Covid mask measures.

News of the incident was relayed by Match TV, which said members of the Russian delegation traveling to the World Championships in Norway were removed from their flight in Amsterdam when connecting to Oslo.

The head coach of the freestyle wrestling team, Dzambolat Tedeev, plus his charges Sadulaev, Timur Bizhoev, Yevgeny Zherbaev and Abasgadzhi Magomedov, had to spend the whole night at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands' largest city.

Only in the morning were they able to finally fly to the Norwegian capital, where the World Championships get underway on Saturday. 

Later to TASS, Tedeev explained how the debacle unfolded.


“At first I didn’t understand what it was – half the plane were sitting without masks, and we were in masks. One person’s mask slipped, and that was the reason why they took us off the plane,” said the coach. 

“They came exactly to us, they started taking our guys off the plane – I won’t sit in my seat, I can’t leave my team. Even if they took one of them [my team], I would have gone with him.

“I’ll point out that coming out of the plane the passengers gave their approval to the cabin crew and special services. ‘You took them away, well done’. Where is that hatred from?

“And when we left the plane there were already 40 people with guns and tasers standing there. We left calmly, without even trying to fight.

“Where did these 40 people come from with weapons in their hands, if this wasn’t a provocation?”

After he "immediately contacted the leaders of our federation," Tedeev claimed that the reaction could have been due to Russia being a "team and country of winners," with the incident "specially created out of the blue".

"We still got to Oslo a couple of hours ago. Now they are sleeping, everyone is tired," he added.

Becoming a double Olympic champion at the recent Tokyo 2020 Games where he was a flag-bearer for the closing ceremony, Sadulaev, known as the "Russian Tank", is aiming for his fifth gold medal at the upcoming competition.

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