Russian and Belarusian sailors~, are expected to receive their only opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics at a last-chance competition in France next year. Russia’s top sailing official called this possibility “madness” on Wednesday.
The Last Chance Regatta for Olympic qualification, which will be held in Hyères on the French Riviera in April, is the “targeted opportunity” for sailors with passports from Russia and Belarus to return to international competition as neutral athletes, according to the World Sailing governing organization. As part of their continued widespread exclusion from international sports due to their war on Ukraine, the decision would bar Russia and Belarus from participating in three global qualification events and five European qualification events that are scheduled through March.
Due to a decision made by World Sailing on Tuesday, Russian sailors won’t be traveling to The Hague for the 2023 world championships, which are the primary Olympic qualifier and are slated to take place there in August. After the International Olympic Committee provided guidelines for the parameters to accept neutral athletes competing again as the Paris Games approach in March, individual governing organizations have been left to make the final choices on whether and how Russians and Belarusians can return to sports.
Russian and Belarussian nationals should not be excluded based only on their passport, according to the IOC and its president Thomas Bach. Sergey Dzhienbaev, head of the Russian Sailing Federation, questioned World Sailing’s present policy of allowing only one potential, but not assured, regatta to qualify for Paris.
According to Dzhienbaev’s comments, which were quoted by the Russian news outlet Tass, “it is also madness to turn up without competitive practice and qualify for the Olympic Games,” about the last-chance alternative. Six Russian athletes participated in five of the ten medal classes at the Tokyo Olympics, but they came away empty-handed. In the last 20 years, only the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics saw Russia win a bronze medal in sailing. According to a statement from World Sailing, the organization “remains fully committed to supporting Ukraine’s sailing community through what continues to be an unbearably trying time.”
Global qualifying competitions in 2024 might also be the sole way for Russian boxers to go to their competition at the Paris Games, which run from July 26 to August 11. They won’t be allowed to enter Poland for the European Games next month, and it doesn’t look like they’ll get a pass for the Asian Games, which China will host in September. Two Russian Olympic taekwondo winners from the Tokyo Games have been disqualified from the global championships, which begin in Azerbaijan the following week.
The 23 Russian and Belarusian athletes who had been given the go-ahead by World Taekwondo to compete as neutrals did not include Maksim Khramtsov and Vladislav Larin. Both athletes have stated their support for the conflict, which violates the IOC’s proposed criterion of neutrality. According to World Taekwondo, the eligibility assessment panel for the approved list “was assured that no athletes were actively engaged in the military and those who had held positions have since been discharged.” The umbrella organization of Olympic sports federations, known as ASOIF, will convene in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 31 to discuss the question of Russian and Belarusian status.
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