A diplomatic incident broke out when a Polish official removed the flag of a Russian player in the middle of the game at the Women’s World Cup.
In a video of the incident, Russian Tamara Tansykkuzhina is deeply focused, but is suddenly distracted by the official’s intervention.
The title champion lost the game to Poland’s Natalia Sadowska.
The official later apologized, but said he urgently needed to comply with a sports decision against Russia.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned Russian sportsmen from competing under the Russian flag for two years, until December 16, 2022, including at the Tokyo Olympics.
Wada confirmed that it requested action on the flag on Tuesday after an earlier request was not granted, but in a statement to the Reuters news agency, said: “Wada did not intend and did not ask for the flags to be removed during a match. The way in which they were removed is not an issue for Wada. “
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the Polish apology meant that “this incident must be considered resolved”. But he said he believed the Russian player had lost the game “largely due to that incident”.
The game for the world title, in a hotel in the Polish capital, Warsaw, continues until 3 May. Sadowska and Tansykkuzhina play nine rounds and the first to reach 54 points wins. Sadowska is ahead, 32 to 16.
In solidarity with his opponent, Sadowska removed his Polish flag after the official’s surprise intervention.
Anti-doping decision against Russia
Wada’s decision prevents Russian athletes in a wide variety of sports from displaying their national flag in international competitions. The Russian national anthem cannot be played either.
Wada imposed the punishment after discovering that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) does not comply with Wada’s rules on laboratory testing to detect illegal doping.
Polish officer Jacek Pawlicki, who removed the Russian flag, said “we were really under pressure and scared”. “I’m sure a lot of Russians are upset and that’s why I’m really sorry,” he said.
He compared his dilemma to a “zugzwang” – the position in which a chess player or checkers faces only bad moves.
Damian Reszka, president of the Polish Federation of Checkers, said “such was the need of the moment” – otherwise, his federation would have been expelled from Wada.
It is just the latest episode of friction in Polish-Russian relations. On April 23, Russia expelled five Polish diplomats – a retaliation in kind for the Polish expulsion of three Russian diplomats. There were a series of evictions involving Russia and neighbors of the former Soviet bloc.
The departure from Warsaw is international checkers – the 10×10 board version, also called Polish checkers or international checkers. Each player has 20 pieces and only 50 dark squares are used.
Another popular version is the English checkers (or American checkers), with an 8×8 board and 12 pieces on each side.