Russian Olympians are farewelled to the Olympics with a prayer service

2021-07-05

The Synodal Department for Church Relations with Society and the Russian mass media of the Moscow Patriarchate announced a prayer service on the occasion of the departure of the Russian Olympic team to Tokyo. The divine service will be conducted by the chairman of the Patriarchal Commission on Physical Culture and Sports (no joke, it exists), Metropolitan Mitrofan (Badanin) of Murmansk and Monchegorsk and Archpriest Andrei (Alekseev), the spiritual father of the national team.

Russian athletes in the temple before leaving for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro / Archive photo

The official announcement reads: “With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia <…> a traditional prayer service will be held before the departure of the Russian national team for the XXXII Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.”

The event is scheduled for June 30, but it is not yet known whether it will take place before or after Vladimir Putin’s press conference.

In addition to priests and athletes, the following will turn to God: Chairman of the Russian Olympic Committee Stanislav Pozdnyakov, chairmen of Russian sports federations, representatives of the Olympic Committee accompanying the team and employees of the Russian Ministry of Sports. Whether Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists and atheists will be among the participants is not yet reported.

Since the solemn event is called “traditional”, it means that it is not the first time that they pray together. The specific results of appeals to the Almighty are difficult to determine. But by circumstantial evidence, we can assume that while they are upstairs, they hardly hear us: most Russian footballers kiss the lawn, cross and point a finger to the sky before entering the field, but it’s all in vain. It didn’t work in Sochi either. While the competition was going on, it seemed to help. And then our heavenly office was unable to cope with the International Anti-Doping Agency. And it all went sideways.

We sincerely wish good luck to our athletes. May they show good results and win remarkable victories in a fair fight. But, in our opinion, persistent training will bring more benefits than visiting temples. In the atheistic Soviet Union, sports achievements were significantly higher than in modern Russia.