Striking the wrong chord: CAS bans use of ‘Katyusha’ song instead of Russian national anthem at Olympic Games


The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected Russia’s proposal to use the song ‘Katyusha’ instead of its national anthem at the Olympic Games, as it is too closely associated with the country, which is serving a two-year ban.

The CAS ruled earlier that Russian athletes competing at major international events, including the World Championships and Olympics, will be prohibited from using national symbols, such as the flag and anthem, until December 2022.

READ MORE: New Russian team name and flag agreed for athletes at Tokyo and Beijing Olympic Games

Russian athletes appearing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing will perform under the name ‘ROC’, the acronym which represents the Russian Olympic Committee, as the nation serves its ban for alleged doping-related offences.

Members of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) brought forward the idea of using the popular song at major sporting events after the CAS upheld WADA’s decision to impose a ban on Russia but reduced the term from four to two years.

‘Katyusha’ is a folk song or military march which was composed in 1938 by Matvey Blanter.

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It gained nationwide popularity during World War II as a patriotic song which inspired people to defend the motherland.

However, the CAS rejected the idea of using the song instead of the banned anthem, saying that it would approve no “song with links to Russia.”

The CAS panel considers that ‘any anthem linked to Russia’ extends to any song associated with, or with links to, Russia, which would include ‘Katyusha’,” the CAS said.

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