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In Apparent ‘Error,’ Russian Figure Skater’s Auschwitz-Themed Outfit Makes Shortlist for International Skating Union’s ‘Best Costume’ Award

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The International Skating Union (ISU) has apologized for including an Auschwitz-themed figure skating outfit as a nominee for its “Best Costume” of the year award. Responding to backlash mounting on social media, the ISU wrote on Twitter that the costume, which was worn by 23-year-old Russian skater Anton Shulepov at ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events in France and Japan in November, was included in “error.”

“The ISU regrets that by error the wrong costume (Free Skating instead of Short Program costume) of Mr. Shulepov has been presented for voting,” the organization tweeted. “This error has been corrected and the ISU sincerely apologizes for this mistake and the bad sentiments it has caused.”

Shulepov’s free skate costume appeared to feature elements of both concentration camp prisoner and guard uniforms, including a yellow Star of David, and was worn by Shulepov during a free skate routine set to the theme from Schindler’s List. Shulepov finished 11th at the Grand Prix event in France and eighth at the later event in Japan, failing to qualify for the Grand Prix final.

Russia's Anton Shulepov performs in the men free skating at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2019/2020 NHK Trophy in Sapporo on November 23, 2019.
Russia's Anton Shulepov performs in the men's free skating at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2019/2020 NHK Trophy in Sapporo on November 23, 2019.Junko Kimura-Matsumoto—AFP/Getty Images

In a statement to The Guardian, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, described the costume as “insensitive and offensive.”

“While we understand the need for skaters to be creative in their choice of costumes, Anton Shulepov’s apparent decision to evoke painful Holocaust imagery as part of his routine was insensitive and offensive,” Greenblatt said. “We are surprised that the International Skating Union initially posted a picture of this costume as a nominee for ‘costume of the year.’ Yellow Stars of David or other concentration camp imagery have no place in figure skating.”

Shulepov’s short program skate costume — a plain, dark blue turtleneck paired with black pants — is now listed among the other costumes up for the “Best Costume” vote, per the ISU’s statement that it was the outfit originally intended for inclusion. The ISU did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment on how the shortlist was selected.

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Internationaux de France
Anton Shulepov of Russia competes in the men's short program during day 1 of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Internationaux de France at Polesud Ice Skating Rink on Nov. 01, 2019 in Grenoble, France.Joosep Martinson—Getty Images

Shulepov is not the first figure skater to perform to music from Schindler’s List. Earlier this year, American figure skater Jason Brown debuted a new routine set to the John Williams-composed score at the Grand Prix event Skate America. “My background, obviously, is Jewish, and the story is so touching,” Brown told NBC Sports. “I grew up learning about the Holocaust and about Oskar Schindler and the stories. I always wanted to skate to it, but it has to be when I’m at the level, maturity-wise, that I’m really ready.”

German figure skater Nicole Schott previously came under fire for skating to the theme during the 2018 Winter Olympics. And in 2016, a “Holocaust-themed” skating routine (set to music from the movie Life is Beautiful) was performed to much controversy by Tatiana Navka, a former Olympic ice dancing champion and wife of longtime Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, during a Russian reality TV competition.

Shulepov has yet to comment on the costume or routine in question.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com