Olympic athletes are having their fair share of problems in Russia. Friday’s epic opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics featured the classic lighting of the cauldron. Former Russian figure skater Irina Rodnina and hockey player Vladislav Tretyak were granted the honor which symbolically marks the opening of the games.
Unfortunately that glory was short-lived. Not long afterwards, scandal lit up social media as people began to realize that Rodnina had tweeted a racist doctored picture of President Obama. Although the pic was tweeted five months ago, the scandal was enough to shade what was probably one of the proudest moments of Rodnina’s life. President Obama and The First Lady both appear in the doctored picture. The couple appears to sit courtside at a game, the president with his mouth full of food, staring at a super-imposed banana. See pic after the cut.
It’s a sobering reminder that racism is real and just yet another issue that the athletes have to share the spotlight with. According to The Guardian, when asked about the photo, Rodnina implied that it was a part of a conspiracy from an opposing political party. She then posted a follow-up tweet that read:
“Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and you should answer for your own hang-ups.”
Rodnina is also a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia political party. According to Mashable, in Russia, it’s not uncommon for black soccer players to be taunted with fruit and monkey sounds during games.
It’s bad enough Olympians are drinking yellow water and busting out of bathrooms, Sochi can’t really afford to add “racism” to its already unfavorable publicity.