Is this the first time the US and Russia have been involved in an Olympic spat? How have the Americans been with athletes from other nations with tense diplomatic ties?
The big story from the first week of Tokyo 2020, is the return of the bitter US vs Russia rivalry. In a throwback to the Cold War era, the two sporting superpowers have crossed swords on field and have also indulged in wars of words off it. Rio Olympics gold-medalist US swimmer Ryan Murphy, after getting dethroned by Russian star Evgeny Rylov, hinted that the race wasn’t fair. “I’ve got 15 thoughts, 13 of them would get me into a lot of trouble. It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year, that I am swimming in a race that’s probably not clean,” he said. His comments alluded to Russia’s infamous doping scandal in 2014, which prompted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to ban the country from competing in international sports using the Russian flag or the country’s name. In Tokyo the entire Russian contingent competes for the ‘Russian Olympic Committee (ROC),’ and their national anthem is not played after a gold medal win. There have been other episodes at Tokyo that have brought out the acrimony between the long-time political and sporting rivals.