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German sponsors attack Russian ski hero over ‘Putin support’

Alexander Bolshunov appeared at a recent concert marking the reunification of Russia and CrimeaGerman sponsors attack Russian ski hero over ‘Putin support’

German sponsors attack Russian ski hero over ‘Putin support’

Russian skier Alexander Bolshunov. © Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

A representative from German sportswear company KinetiXx has criticized Russian three-time Olympic champion Alexander Bolshunov for his appearance at a Moscow concert marking the reunification of Russia and Crimea, accusing the star of being “crazy” for showing support for Vladimir Putin.

Cross-country king Bolshunov, who earned triple gold at the Beijing Games last month, appeared at the mass event at Luzhniki Stadium which was held under the banner ‘For A World Without Nazism’ and featured a speech by President Putin and performances by a host of Russian musicians.

Alongside Bolshunov, Russian athletes including double Olympic swimming champion Evgeny Rylov and gymnastics siblings the Averina sisters were also in attendance.

Some of the sports stars wore clothing emblazoned with the ‘Z’ symbol which is used to mark Russian military equipment during the operation in Ukraine, and which has become a symbol of support for the nation’s armed forces.

RT

RT

Bolshunov (L) was among the athletes in attendance. © Pavel Bednyakov

Helmut Hanus, marketing manager for winter sports at German brand KinetiXx, revealed that the company had severed ties with Bolshunov and Russian athletes, calling the ski star “idiotic” for showing support for Putin and attending the Moscow event.

“It was crazy and idiotic. I have no words. He has proven himself a supporter of Putin, and that is completely unacceptable. We completely distance ourselves from that,” Hanus said, according to Norwegian outlet VG.

“Bolshunov and others have supported Putin. Watching them in the stadium during the propaganda show… It’s terribly sad to see,” Hanus claimed.

Olympic champion stripped of Speedo deal after Moscow concert appearance

Olympic champion stripped of Speedo deal after Moscow concert appearance

Olympic champion stripped of Speedo deal after Moscow concert appearance

Bolshunov, 25, had been among the biggest stars to wear KineteXx gloves, but Hanus said the company had ended its deal with the Russian skiing federation after Moscow launched its military offensive in Ukraine.

“Support for Putin and what he’s doing is not okay. We’ve stopped everything and I can’t see any change in that,” Hanus added.

Bolshunov is not the only athlete to face Western opprobrium following an appearance at last Friday’s Moscow concert.

Double Olympic swimming champion Rylov was dropped by sponsors Speedo, with governing body FINA announcing on Wednesday that they were opening disciplinary proceedings against the star.

Rylov had earlier said he would boycott the upcoming World Championships in Budapest in a show of solidarity with banned Russian and Belarusian athletes across other sports, before FINA issued a blanket suspension on swimmers from the two countries on Wednesday.


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