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Legal issue delays team figure skating medal ceremony at Winter Olympics

An International Olympic Committee spokesman said “a situation arose” at short notice, delaying the ceremony to award the Russian team gold medals and the United States silver.

The medal ceremony for the team figure skating competition at the Beijing Winter Olympics was delayed Wednesday because of what the International Olympic Committee called a legal issue that could affect medalists. 

The committee did not explain the nature of the legal issue.

The competition concluded Monday after several days of intense skating during which the Russian Olympic Committee athletes won gold, the United States took silver and Japan bronze.

It was Team USA’s best finish in the event since its debut in 2014.

But IOC spokesman Mark Adams told a news conference Wednesday that “a situation arose” at short notice which requires a “legal consultation” with the International Skating Union, the governing body of skating. No further information was provided. 

“We have athletes and athletes that have won medals involved,” he said. “We will be doing our level utmost to make sure it is resolved as quickly as possible.” 

However, he cautioned that “as you know, legal issues can sometimes drag on.”

The International Skating Union did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Silver medalists Team USA pose for a group photo following the figure skating team event.David J. Phillip / AP

If any athlete and team were disqualified, an appeal would likely follow to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, according to The Associated Press. Should a medal-winning team be disqualified then Canada, which placed fourth, would be in line to be upgraded.

The team figure skating competition, contested over several days, consists of disciplines including women’s and men’s events, pair skating and ice dance. 

Russia’s 15-year-old star, Kamila Valieva, became the first woman to land a quad in the Olympics, helping her team to cap a dominant run to the gold medal in Beijing.

The U.S. team included Nathan Chen, who’s hoping for individual gold this week, and Vincent Zhou, who is now out of the Olympics after officials said Monday he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said people should wait for clarifications either from Russian sports officials or the IOC on what was behind the delay.

“So far we have not heard any official statements,” he told a news briefing. “There are only some sources in the media.” 

Russian athletes are currently not allowed to compete under their country’s name, or with its flag and anthem, due to a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport following a landmark case that accused the country of state-ordered tampering of a testing laboratory database in Moscow.

The Russian Olympic Committee, Russian Skating Federation and World Anti-Doping Agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said it was receiving information at the same time as the media and was waiting to see what happens next.

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