Politics at Olympics: Russians fume at judges who gave gold to Israeli gymnast who dropped ribbon


For the first time since 1996 a Russian rhythmic gymnast will not take home Olympic gold in the individual all-round competition after a distraught Dina Averina suffered a shock defeat to Israel’s Linoy Ashram.

Three-time reigning all-round world champion Averina, 22, had been odds-on favorite to win the gold after topping qualifying ahead of twin sister Arina Averina, but on a day of high drama at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on Saturday both were left disappointed.

Dina Averina finished with a total of 107.650 – not enough for her to overcome Israeli rival Ashram, who topped the podium with 107.800.

Arina Averina missed out on a medal altogether as she ended fourth behind Alina Harnasko of Belarus.

Dina Averina appeared distraught as her second-place finish was confirmed, slumping into her chair and bursting into tears.

It is the first time since the Atlanta Games 25 years ago that a Russian gymnast has not taken home the all-round title.


There was fury, however, at the judging during the contest, with the Russian team lodging several complaints during the competition. 

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Telegram account announced that a protest had also been filed after the overall results, but to no avail. 

Ashram claimed gold despite dropping the ribbon during her routine, leaving her with a score of 23.000 for that rotation while Dina Averina claimed 24.000.

Russian fans, pundits and trainers were left fuming at the scoring – including iconic figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova.

“Bandits! Real bandits!” raged Tarasova in comments to the Russian media.

“We saw in front of our eyes the Israeli athlete lose her apparatus. How can this be? The judges changed their marks lots of times – this means they’re not sure they’re right…

“The Olympics have become politicized, they have become a joke.”

Russian athletes had topped the podium in the all-round individual event at the last five Games – including Margarita Mamun in Rio five years ago.