World Aquatics stands by its strict Russia policy for Olympics

February 18, 2024 9:55 am

[Source: Reuters]

World Aquatics (WA) are standing by their strict criteria for Russian and Belarusian swimmers to return to international competition – even if it means some of the world’s best from the two countries boycott the Paris Olympics.

Swimming’s global governing body approved the return of Russian and Belarusian participants last September after banning them following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

They can only compete as neutrals, they are banned from relay events and they must accept strict criteria including no “explicit or implicit” statements of support for the war in Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special military operation”.

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They are also subject to stringent anti-doping requirements and a ban on talking to media during competition.

Russia’s swimming federation condemned the protocols as unacceptable and discriminatory, and no Russian swimmer entered the World Championships currently being held in Doha.

“As I sit here right now, I’m standing by the policy 100%” WA Executive Director Brent Nowicki told Reuters.

“I don’t think it’s too restrictive. I think it’s a policy that reflects the voice of our community, and whether or not they want to do it is up to them.”

A number of top Russian swimmers would have had strong medal claims if they competed at Doha, including men’s 50 metres backstroke world record holder Kliment Kolesnikov and Evgeniia Chikunova, the women’s 200m breaststroke world record holder.