The Russian wrestling team en route to the wrestling world championships were reportedly thrown off their connecting flight in Amsterdam after a mask-wearing row.
According to a report by Russia’s official state news agency TASS, head coach Dzambolat Tedeev said they were thrown off from the place because one of their delegation’s masks had “slipped”.
Tedeev said “half of the passengers in the plane were sitting without masks”—which are mandatory on the majority of flights worldwide amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He suggested that the team may have been deliberately “provoked and picked on.
Wrestlers, including double Olympic and four-time world champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev, were forced to spend the night at Schipol Airport after the incident. They arrived in Oslo, Norway the next day for the wrestling world championships, which began on Saturday.
"At first I didn’t understand what it was - half the plane were sitting without masks, and we were in masks. One person’s mask slipped, and that was the reason why they took us off the plane. They came exactly to us, they started taking our guys off the plane - I won’t sit in my seat, I can’t leave my team,” Tedeev was quoted by TASS as saying.
"Even if they took one of them [my team], I would have gone with him. I’ll point out that coming out of the plane the passengers gave their approval to the cabin crew and special services. You took them away, well done. Where is that hatred from?”
Tedeev claimed there were around 40 people carrying guns and tasers to escort the Russian squad out of the flight. He said the authorities tried to provoke them.
“When we left the plane there were already 40 people with guns and tasers standing there. We left calmly, without even trying to fight. Where did these 40 people come from with weapons in their hands, if this wasn’t a provocation?"
Abdulrashid Sadulaev to compete on day 3 of Wrestling World Championships
Sadulaev will begin his wrestling world championships campaign in the hunt for a fifth title on Monday. The Russian tank will once again be the favorite to clinch gold in the 97kg bracket. He will be challenged by his arch-rival and Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Kyle Snyder of the USA at the wrestling world championships.