— Published 23 April 2021

The Russians will play Tchaikovsky

Russian athletes will not be able to parade behind their flags next summer at the Tokyo Games, but their substitute anthem will not go unnoticed. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) announced Thursday, April 22nd, that the IOC had accepted its offer to use an excerpt from the work of composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky to replace the Russian anthem during medal ceremonies. “An excerpt from Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s first concerto for piano and orchestra will be performed in honour of the victories of our athletes“, the court said. The proposal was submitted to the IOC last month. To believe the ROC, it has been validated. At first, Russian officials wanted to replace the official anthem, banned in world and Olympic competitions since the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to suspend Russia for a period of two years, with a folk song known in the whole world, “Katyusha”. But the CAS had refused this option, citing a provision of its decision of last December according to which a Russian team cannot in any case use “an anthem directly linked to Russia“. Russian sports leaders have therefore taken up the case. And suggested to appeal to a myth of Russian culture, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, born in 1840 in Votkinsk, disappeared 53 years later in Saint-Petersburg. With this argument: his music must now be considered “part of the world’s musical heritage“.