It’s done. For the first time since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Russian flag was raised, and the national anthem played, during an international multi-sport competition organized outside the country. The scene took place on Thursday 20 April in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, during the opening ceremony of the ALBA Games. In the front row of spectators, the Russian ambassador to Venezuela, Sergey Melik-Bagdasarov, and the deputy minister of sports, Alexey Morozov. The ALBA Games bring together 35 events and about 3,500 athletes from 11 countries. The competitions will take place from April 21 to 29. Officially invited last February by the Venezuelan Minister of Popular Power for Youth and Sports, Mervin Maldonado, Russia is represented in Caracas by 48 athletes. They are engaged in table tennis, boxing, karate, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline, weightlifting and beach volleyball. As a reminder, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) was created in December 2004 at the initiative of the then Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. It now includes, in addition to the two founding nations, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Dominica, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
— Published 21 April 2023