Ukrainian swimmer calls reintegration of Russian athletes a “great shame”

OTOPENI.- The decision of International Olympic Committee (IOC) to authorize the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag is a “great shame for the world of sports“, declared on Saturday the swimmer from UkraineMykhailo Romanchuk, currently in Romania during the European Short Course Championship.

The Russians attacked Ukrainian cities, Ukrainian civilians, Ukrainian athletes, Ukrainian sports facilities, and now they are allowed to participate. It is not normal“, he launched. “More than 400 athletes have died during this war. And now we take them to the Olympic Games?

“If they don’t respect the rules, if they don’t respect peace in the world, why are they authorized to participate? That is why it is a great, great shame for the world of sports.“continued Romanchuk, a double Olympic medalist in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 (silver in the 1500 m, bronze in 800 m).

On Friday, the IOC authorized Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate under a neutral flag in the Paris Olympics 2024after having excluded them after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The institution imposed strict conditions: only “neutral individual” athletes who pass the classification processes will be able to participate, not to actively support the war in Ukraine and that they are not hired by the army or national security agencies.

The International Swimming Federation announced in September the reintegration of the Russians starting in 2024, unlike the athletics federation, which still maintains their exclusion.

Sebastian Coe (President of World Athletics) said that as long as the war was not over, there would be no Russians. I like that decision, and in my opinion, everyone should do the same,” said Romanchuk, whose wife, Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, is a world champion. Europe in triple jump.

Against the boycott of the Olympic Games:

However, he rejected the idea of ​​a boycott of competitions in which Russians participate.. “I have to do my job. My best job is swimming, representing Ukraine and talking to you (the press), doing a lot of interviews, it’s my job.

“I thank the men who defend our country. They not only defend Ukrainethey defend everything Europe. I have to swim. There is nothing more to do. The best thing I can do is swim to represent my country and that’s what I do,” said the 27-year-old athlete.

According to him IOCeleven athletes (eight Russians and three Belarusians) are classified for the moment meeting the neutrality criteria, which Moscow described as “discriminatory“.