Ukrainian Olympic skater who refused to speak Russian tests positive for Covid
Ukrainian figure skating prospect Ivan Shmuratko, who switched to English while answering questions asked in Russian, will not be able to compete in the Olympic figure skating team event, which kicks off in Beijing tomorrow.
The 20-year-old was preparing to represent his country in the men’s short program and said he is “totally devastated” after learning the results of his test.
“Now I feel devastation and regret from learning that Covid-19 has affected my Olympic plans,” the skater said.
“I wanted to help my team, as well as to feel the competition’s amazing atmosphere. I wish good luck to my friends and teammates,” he added.
Earlier this week, Shmuratko was embroiled in controversy for refusing to speak Russian at a press conference.
The skater switched to English when responding to a question asked by a Russian journalist, apparently following instructions from Ukrainian officials to avoid “Russian provocations” at the Winter Games.
During a press conference held immediately after figure skating practice in Beijing, the 20-year-old, who speaks fluent Russian, chose to converse in English with Russian reporters.
Last month, Ukraine’s youth and sports minister, Vadim Gutzeit, advised Ukrainian Olympic competitors on how to behave with their Russian counterparts during the Beijing Games to avoid “Russian provocations.”
The athletes were recommended not to take pictures with their Russian counterparts and speak either Ukrainian or English with the press.