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Russian speed skater accepts apologies from S. Korea over Russian national anthem mishap

February 29, 19:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW
During the awarding ceremony on Sunday local organizers began playing the national anthem of the United States in honor of the gold winner from Russia
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Pavel Kulizhnikov

Pavel Kulizhnikov

© Sergey Savostyanov/TASS

MOSCOW, February 29. /TASS/. Russian speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov told TASS on Monday he accepted apologies from the South Korean organizers of the 2016 World Sprint Skating Championships in regard to the confusion over the Russian national anthem.

Kulizhnikov won the combined sprint competition at the 2016 World Sprint Speed Skating Championships held over the weekend in Seoul. During the awarding ceremony on Sunday local organizers began playing the national anthem of the United States in honor of the gold winner from Russia. The US anthem played for several seconds before it was changed to the Russian.

In a statement obtained by TASS earlier in the day, a spokeswoman for the Korean Skating Union extended an official apology over the confusion with the Russian anthem on Sunday.

"Yes, the US anthem was played for several seconds only," Kulizhnikov said in an interview with TASS upon his arrival back to Russia from the tournament in South Korea. "All I did was only to look around in surprise."

"However, a big fuss was made out of this situation in Russia," he said. "I do not understand why it was necessary. I do completely accept apologies on behalf of the organizers and I personally believe they should not have worried extending excuses over such omission."

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko earlier announced that a complaint would be lodged with the International Skating Union (ISU) over the incident.

Commenting on the situation, Alexei Kravtsov, the president of the Russian Skating Union (RSU) told TASS he hoped that organizers of the future skating events in South Korea would not be making mistakes anymore in playing the Russian national anthem.

"The RSU is not planning of launching any proceedings in this regard," Kravtsov said in an interview with TASS. "We hope that the organizing committees in Seoul and PyongChang, which are hosting next year the pre-Olympic speed skating tournaments, learnt their lesson from this incident."

The incident in South Korea was not the first in regard to the national anthem of Russia as last year two similar incidents happened within a day at two different international sports tournaments in separate parts of the world.

On September 8, 2015, US organizers of the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas mixed up the national anthem in favor of Russia’s two-time Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Roman Vlasov after he won the gold medal. The organizers played an older version of the Russian anthem by composer Mikhail Glinka.

That piece of Glinka’s Patrioticheskaya Pesnya (The Patriotic Song) was used for as the Russian national anthem in 1990s during the rule of late President Boris Yeltsin, until President Putin changed back the anthem on the eve of the millennium to the music composed by Alexander Alexandrov.

The same awkward situation took place within a day at the 2015 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, when the organizers mixed the Russian national anthem played in favor of gold medalist Margarita Mamun.

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