The Olympic Games formally open in Tokyo on Friday but Russians will be struggling to identify their compatriots at this summer’s sporting spectacular, according to a recent poll.
The Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) surveyed the population about the upcoming showpiece, which has its Opening Ceremony on Friday and runs to August 8.
According to the results, 77% of Russian know that the Games will be taking place – which is a promising start – while almost two-thirds (61%) are planning to follow the action to some extent.
The most interest will be geared towards athletics, with 33% of Russians who are following the Games interested in track and field events.
That’s closely followed by events in the pool (31%) and rhythmic gymnastics (23%).
But according to the survey – which polled 1,600 people over the age of 18 – the average Russian is somewhat foggy on the stars from their homeland competing in Japan, despite big names such as men’s tennis world number two Daniil Medvedev making the trip.
Indeed, a whopping 97% of those asked couldn’t name a single Russian athlete in Tokyo, with just 1% of those polled managing to name three-time world high-jump queen Mariya Lasitskene.
Russians are split on their country’s chances of making the top three in the Tokyo medal table, with 57% believing that they can – and 22% convinced that they can even top it.
One in 10 of those asked was pessimistic about their nation’s chances, answering that they would finish outside the top five nations in the medal stakes.
Last time round at the Rio Games, Russia came fourth with 56 medals in total, including 19 gold, despite sending a reduced delegation due to a doping scandal.
This summer Russia is sending 335 athletes to Tokyo, who will formally compete as neutrals under the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) banner after sanctions meted out by the World Anti-Doping Agency due to alleged tampering with data from a Moscow laboratory.