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Georgian Flag Featured at BRICS Games, Sparking Controversy

At the opening ceremony of the BRICS Games in the Russian city of Kazan on June 12, the Georgian flag appeared along with the “state flags” of the occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia.

Flag of the occupied region of Abkhazia at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Games
Flag of the occupied region of Tskhinvali at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Games

Although two Georgian sambo athletes are officially registered as participants on the BRICS website, the Georgian Sambo Federation told RFE/RL’s Georgian Service that they did not travel to Russia and did not take part in the Russian-dominated sports competition.

The participants of the opening ceremony were also addressed by Vladimir Putin via video.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Russian Federation has been excluded from almost all international big sports competitions. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Games, an organization dominated by Russia itself, continues to hold international sports competitions, with the participation, among others, of unrecognized entities, such as the Russian-occupied Abkhazia, Tskhinvali region, also LNR, DNR, Transnistria and others.

Later last year, it was reported that athletes from Georgia’s occupied territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali would participate in the BRICS Games.

We have asked the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment and will update the news as soon as we receive it.

On June 19, Ekho Kavkaza, the Russian-language service of RFE/RL, reported that four Georgian athletes -Zurab Chagelishvili, Valeri Iarganashvili, Vakhtang Tabarukishvili, and Tamaz Bedinadze – were to take part in the BRICS Games. They were officially invited to compete in “koresh” wrestling, a type of belt wrestling. However, as Giorgi Chitashvili, head of the Georgian Koresh Federation, told Ekho Kavkaza, the athletes and representatives of the federation refused to participate after they learnt that athletes from the occupied Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region would be taking part in the games.

NOTE: This news story was updated at 12:20 p.m. on June 19 to include information reported by Ekho Kavkaza.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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