Staunton, February 21 – Athletes from the Non-Russian republics have a remarkable opportunity to attract the attention of the world to their nations. Given that many sports federations have banned the use of the Russian flag and hymn at competitions, these athletes in the event of victories can substitute their republic flags and anthems.
That has now happened in the case of Bashkir sportsman Dinar Valeyev, who won a motor race on ice competition in Toliatti, a city in Russia. As he stood on the podium, the national anthem of Bashkortostan was played, “the first case in the history of the sport” when this has happened (region.expert/valeev/).
To be sure, this happened at an international competition within the current borders of the Russian Federation, but the Tallinn-based Region.Expert portal suggests that this may become “an instructive example for the organizers of other international competitions at which sportsmen from regions of the Russian Federation win” when the Russian flag and anthem can’t be used.
In the years before the disintegration of the USSR, representatives of many non-Russian diasporas celebrated the triumphs of athletes from their homelands by carrying national flags to the competitions and waving them when their athletes won even if they achieved victory under the flag of the Soviet Union.
What Valeyev has done and the organizers in Toliatti have allowed extends this tradition to a new level; and while it may seem a small thing to some, it is no smaller in its meaning and implications than when Lithuanians celebrated Lithuanian basketball players on the Soviet team and people from the North Caucasus celebrated boxers and weightlifters too.