Earlier today, Russia allowed two of their most famous Olympic athletes of all time to light the Olympic cauldron at the conclusion of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi. Those two athletes were former figure skater Irina Rodnina, who won gold medals for the Soviet Union in 1972, 1976, and 1980, and former hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak, who led the Soviets to the gold medal in 1972, 1976, and 1984. It was a special moment for the entire country of Russia, and the Russian leaders couldn't have picked two better former athletes to light the cauldron.
But of course, this is Russia we're talking about and Russia has been making nothing but negative headlines this week. So at the moment, even the Olympic flame is causing controversy! And that's because, less than six months ago, Rodnina made some major waves on the Internet by tweeting out a racist photo of the Obamas. You can see that photo here:
Yikes. And to make things even worse, Rodnina did delete the tweet that featured the photo right after she sent it, but she has steadfastly refused to apologize for sending it out.
"Freedom of speech is freedom of speech," she said when she was asked about the photo in September, "and you should answer for your own hang-ups."
Double yikes. We don't doubt that the Russians are proud of Rodnina for what she was able to do during her Olympic career. But they had to know that picking her to light the Olympic cauldron after sending out that tweet would cause controversy, no?