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Volume 25 No. 87
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Russian-Themed Sports House Pumping Up Olympic Enthusiam

Sports House includes a shop selling red T-shirts reading "Russia in my heart" in English and Russian

The feeling of Russian pride at the Pyeongchang Games is "unmistakable," as Sports House, a converted seafront wedding hall decked in all manner of Russian paraphernalia, is "serving as Russia’s social headquarters," according to Tariq Panja of the N.Y. TIMES. A giant nesting doll plastered onto a wall "identifies the entrance" to the house, and a "flight of stairs leads into a main room filled with memorabilia evoking Russian Olympic success and culture." Guests can "grab tea from large samovars before viewing an exhibit of jerseys and medals from the country’s hockey successes, dating to the Soviet period when the Red Machine ruled." The nationalist fervor is "at odds with the demands issued" by the IOC, which "barred the country’s Olympic officials from attending, prohibited the official display of the country’s flag and uniforms, and refused the playing of its national anthem as punishment for a yearslong doping program." The IOC in a statement said the Russian Sports House “is a hospitality venue that is available to all sports fans to celebrate the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018." It is run by a "commercial third party, and the IOC has made the operator aware of the conduct guidelines" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/12). Sports House coordinator Anna Dunaeva said, “It’s not a secret party. We’ve submitted our design to the IOC, and we’re ready to make changes if necessary.” The WALL STREET JOURNAL's David Gauthier-Villars notes one of Dunaeva's concerns is making sure "no fans put a Russian flag on the shoulders of a Russian athlete visiting the house." The house includes a shop "selling red T-shirts reading 'Russia in my heart,' and an exhibit about Russia’s bilateral relations with South Korea" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/12).

FASHION SHOW: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay wrote in the "underground but wildly important fashion show that is the Winter Games, the Russians may wind up being the most stylish athletes in Pyeongchang." Gay: "Designs I’ve seen from the Russian brand Zasport and Nike are impressively sharp, simple and -- what’s the word? Clean." Team USA got "solid reviews for its Ralph Lauren get-ups at Friday’s Opening Ceremony, but I’d put it on the busier side of things." Team OAR was "low-fi." The OAR athletes at the Opening Ceremony "wore plain gray jackets, jeans and gray scarfs." There "wasn’t a lot going on" and it was "unpretentious, easygoing, not trying too hard" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/11).

RUSSIA TAKES AIM AT U.S.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday said that the U.S. "manufactured doping allegations against his country, leading to a ban from the Olympics, because the Americans 'can’t beat us fairly.'" In DC, Des Bieler notes there is "no official Russian contingent" at the Games, although 168 athletes are competing as the OAR. Russia President Vladimir Putin in December suggested that U.S. authorities have been giving Grigory Rodchenkov, former director of Russia's antidoping lab, "'some kind of substances' so he 'says what’s required' to harm Russian interests." His comments were echoed yesterday by Lavrov, who said the Games are a "form of competition without scruples because the U.S. team, obviously, are not capable of beating us fairly at sport” (WASHINGTON POST, 2/12).