Sofya Velikaya: “We will put forward a new anthem for consideration to the ROC Executive Board”

The Chair of the ROC Athletes’ Commission, Olympic champion in fencing spoke to reporters about the results of today’s meeting which took place online.

– First of all, we discussed in detail with our colleagues the recent court ruling handed down by CAS, – noted Sofya Velikaya. – We invited an expert from the Legal Department of the Russian Olympic Committee to give answers to all questions about the consequences and implications of this decision. There are indeed a lot of controversial points. Now we will be able to correctly relay all the relevant information to our athletes.

As you know, within the next two years, Russian athletes will have to compete without the national flag and anthem at the World Championships and Olympic Games. An active negotiation process is currently underway on the options for outfits, the use of the national flag and the inscription ‘Russia.’ We had a productive discussion today regarding the new musical composition that could be temporarily played at competitions as Russian athletes and teams have been banned from using the national anthem for the next two years. As a result, we came to a general consensus that the well-known ‘Katyusha’ song could be used. By the way, this song is often sung by fans in the stands while supporting our teams. The song, in our opinion, is very patriotic, dynamic and renowned. The majority of the members in the Commission voted for this option. Now our proposal will be put forward for consideration to the ROC Executive Board. Perhaps other options will appear, therefore the final decision will be made at a later date.

– What is your personal assessment of the ruling by CAS?

– I would like to express my gratitude to our lawyers, attorneys, the ROC and all those involved who have done a tremendous job in protecting the interests of Russian athletes. Thanks to their efforts, the ruling handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) turned out to be not as stringent as the initial decision proposed by WADA. I believe that Russia, in general, has managed to defend its position. Although the collective sanctions against the use of the national flag and anthem, as well as prohibiting government officials from participating in sporting events, are, in my opinion, unfair and unacceptable.

– What else did you manage to discuss today?

– On a separate note, we discussed the issue of creating Athletes’ Commissions in all the national sports federations. We are actively working in this direction: together with the Russian Olympic Committee, we are developing the necessary regulatory and legal framework, and we are trying to initiate interest from the national sports federations by explaining to their leaders why this is necessary. It is important to establish a direct link between athletes, as well as federations, and the Russian Olympic Committee which will pave the way for making crucial decisions in a prompt manner.