Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

In a recent interview in Saint Petersburg, world record holder Kliment Kolesnikov expressed his decision to forego the 2024 Paris Olympics, citing the “unacceptable” conditions imposed on Russian athletes due to the situation in Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had permitted Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals, excluding team events, and only if they refrained from actively supporting the Ukrainian campaign.

Kolesnikov, renowned for his achievements in the men’s 50m backstroke, conveyed his reluctance to participate in the Games under these circumstances. Despite holding aspirations for an Olympic gold medal, the 23-year-old swimmer emphasized his concern over being a “black sheep” among fellow athletes who choose to compete.

The IOC has indicated that only 11 athletes from Russia and Belarus currently meet the specified criteria for Olympic participation, while approximately 60 Ukrainian athletes have qualified. Moscow has criticized these conditions as “discriminatory” but has not yet decided on recommending athlete participation or advocating for a boycott.

Reflecting on his decision, Kolesnikov stated, “I decided that for me personally, it would not be possible to participate in the Olympic Games under these conditions.” He expressed the desire to focus on achieving “new world records” while competitions in Russia have increased following the ban on international events for Russian athletes in the aftermath of the Ukraine assault.

Kolesnikov, who had won bronze and silver at the 2020 Tokyo Games, remains open to reconsidering his stance if there are changes in the IOC’s conditions and Russian authorities endorse athlete participation. However, for now, he remains committed to staying away from the Paris Olympics, emphasizing the need for alterations in the prevailing circumstances.

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