Swimming: Russian athletes unlikely to compete in Worlds

Swimming is one of the most popular Olympic sports, and the entry deadlines for swimming and diving are quickly approaching, with the championships beginning on July 14 in Fukuoka, Japan

Swimmers in action at the FINA World Swimming Championships 25 m 2022 (Image Credits: World Aquatics/Hiroyuki Nakamura)
By Abhiruchi Rout | Apr 6, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

World Aquatics, the governing body of swimming, has formed a task force to investigate the possibility of returning Russian and Belarussian competitors to international competitions as neutral athletes. This comes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last week recommended allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete internationally once again since they had been banned due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. 

The International Olympic Committee advised that athletes should only be considered for neutral status if they are not proactively backing the conflict in Ukraine and are not connected to the armed forces or national security agencies. The task force, which consists of athletes and members of the aquatics community, will produce a report for the World Aquatics Bureau to take into account. The update is anticipated to be delivered during the upcoming Bureau conference in July 2023.

Swimming is one of the most popular Olympic sports, and the entry deadlines for swimming and diving are quickly approaching, with the championships beginning on July 14 in Fukuoka, Japan. Russian and Belarusian competitors won’t be able to compete in the competition since World Aquatics isn’t expected to decide their eligibility until July. Russian and Belarusian athletes and administrators were barred from competing in international competitions by World Aquatics last year. Due to this, both nations were unable to attend the Swimming World Championships 2022 held in Budapest.

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About the task force

The task force will be under the direction of Aruba native Maureen Croes, president of the Pan American regional swim organization. The task team will look at the possibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes returning to water polo, diving, and swimming as neutral competitors. The task force will need some time to formulate its recommendations before reporting back at the following Bureau meeting in July 2023. The exclusion of athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus is still in effect, and World Aquatics has reiterated its support for the people of Ukraine.

How have other sports federations responded to the decision?

Athletes from Russia and Belarus have been readmitted as neutrals in several Olympic sports such as fencing, judo, taekwondo, and table tennis. However, track and field previously disqualified those nations from competing in this year’s global championships in Budapest, Hungary. The Gymnastics World Championships are set to take place in October in Antwerp, Belgium, with the participation of Russia and Belarus still up in the air.

What are the IOC’s recommendations?

The IOC recommended that governing organizations look into measures to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes with neutral status before the Paris 2024 Olympics, and World Aquatics’ workforce was established following that proposal. Athletes who actively support the conflict in Ukraine or have ties to the armed forces or national security agencies should not be granted neutral status, according to the IOC, which has also advised against including those nations in team sports. Soon after the invasion of Ukraine, most Olympic sports prohibited those nations from participating in or organizing international competitions.

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