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The Russian NHL professional refuses to warm up with a rainbow symbol – and explains the decision

In the NHL, Russian ice hockey player Ivan Provorov caused a sensation by refusing to take a stand against discrimination. Ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers’ 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday (local time), the Flyers geared up in special jerseys for a celebration in Philadelphia honoring the LGBTQ+ community. They also used rackets wrapped in rainbow colored ribbon. The Wells Fargo Municipal Center is also decorated with various symbols in rainbow colors. LGBTQ is the English acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer.

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Meanwhile, Provorov refused to warm up, citing his Russian Orthodox faith: “My choice is to remain true to myself and my religion.” John Tortorella, the Flyers’ coach, still allowed 26-year-old Provoro to play. “He stayed true to himself and his religion,” said Tortorella.

The 64-year-old caused a stir in 2016. As the coach of the US World Cup team at the time, he announced that he would not use a player to kneel for the US anthem like NFL pro Colin Kaepernick did at the time.

Flyers players James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton are notable supporters of the LGBT community and have created a program to support local LGBTQ youth in the Philadelphia area. Laughton announced talks with Provorov after the match. No NHL player has publicly confirmed his homosexuality.