Artem Dolgopyat with his coach Sergey Weisbourg at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday

Red carpet for returning gold medal Olympian as Dolgopyat lands in Israel

The Israeli gymnast says he was very moved by the welcome as he was showered with cheers and jets of champagne, surrounded by his family, friends and adoring fans

i24NEWS |
Published: 08.03.21, 12:54
The red carpet was rolled out this morning at Ben-Gurion Airport to welcome gymnast Artem Dolgopyat home from the Tokyo Olympics, where he won the gold medal in the men's floor exercise.
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  • An immigrant from Ukraine, Dolgopyat won Israel its first gold medal at Tokyo 2020 and the second in its history, eliciting many supporters to make the trip to the airport to salute his victory.
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    ארטיום דולגופיאט בנתב"ג
    ארטיום דולגופיאט בנתב"ג
    Artem Dolgopyat with his coach Sergey Weisbourg at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    "I am very moved by this welcome," said the champion, on his arrival and under jets of champagne. "This medal puts a lot of pressure on my shoulders for the rest of my career but everything will be fine," he added, with a smile.
    After his victory, the country was moved by the fact that Artem Dolgopyat, who is Jewish through his father's family, is unable to marry his partner in Israel.
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    אולג דולגופיאט מתכונן לקבל את בנו האלוף האולימפי ארטיום
    אולג דולגופיאט מתכונן לקבל את בנו האלוף האולימפי ארטיום
    Artem's father Oleg prepares to welcome his son at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    According to Jewish religious practice, only a person whose mother is Jewish can be considered a Jew. As marriage in the country is controlled through the ultra-Orthodox run Rabbinate, Jews are unable to marry "non-Jews" - including as many as 350,000 Israelis like Dolgopyat, many of whom immigrated to Israel from former Soviet states.
    Labor MP Gilad Kariv, former director of the Reform Movement in Israel, tweeted: "The right to marry in your country is a fundamental right. Artem, you will continue to bring us medals, and we will continue to fight for your free choice in matters of marriage and divorce."
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