Olympic swimming champion protests ban on Russians athletes
Evgeny Rylov will sacrifice the world championships as he appeared at an event featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week
Evgeny Rylov, the Beijing Olympic Games swimming double champion, has announced that he will not compete in the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest in order to show support for his compatriots who have been barred from competing in the Paralympics and other major sporting events due to the military operation in Ukraine.
The 25-year-old made the statement on social media a day after it was revealed that he had lost a sponsorship arrangement with Speedo because he attended an event in Moscow last week starring Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an online statement, the athlete told his fans that he refuses to attend the 2022 World Championships in the summer "in support of the Russian Paralympic athletes, in support of all Russian athletes who have been suspended from international competitions."
"I believe that by losing competition, the development of sports is lost. No matter how sad it may sound, the sport cannot move without worthy competitors."
FINA, which organizes the championships, is one of the few major sporting organizations that has not excluded Russian and Belarussian competitors in response to an International Olympic Committee [IOC] edict pushing federations to take action.
Read more: Ice Hockey Federation replaces Russia, Belarus at world championship
The organizing board has granted Russians and Belarusians the right to compete as neutrals.
The national swimming federations of Poland and Switzerland have vowed to boycott the championships if their representatives are permitted to compete, and their Norwegian counterparts have stated they would establish a coalition of Scandinavian countries to follow suit.
In a decision that is expected to include the European Championships in Munich in August, the European Swimming League has stated that it would not invite athletes from the nations to its competitions.
The Russian Paralympic Committee arrived in Rio de Janeiro for the Paralympic Games before the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decided to impose a ban a day before the competition began on March 4.
According to Rylov, "Conclusions should be made by the federations about the direction in which they want to develop sports and whether [IOC founder] Pierre de Coubertin wanted to see [this] when he initiated the organization of the Olympic Games, which were supposed to unite people."
Putin has also stated that international sporting prohibitions have "distorted" De Coubertin's ideas.
Last week, at the opening ceremony of an alternative winter event to the Paralympics, the head of state referred to the IPC's exclusion of Russia and Belarus as the "height of cynicism."
Rylov lost his Speedo contract after attending a Moscow performance commemorating Crimea's reunification with Russia.
The Tokyo Games 100m and 200m backstroke champion was among the more than 100,000 spectators who gathered at the Luzhniki Stadium on Friday.
Putin delivered his speech under the slogan 'For a World Without Nazism,' and Rylov joined his fellow athletes in donning national team gear with the letter 'Z' inscribed on it.
The insignia that appeared on Russian military equipment during the Ukraine crisis has come to represent support for Russian soldiers.
It is noteworthy that several sports governing bodies have defied their doctrines, mixing sports with politics and unlawfully banning and suspending Russia and Belarus from international sporting competitions, as well as depriving the two countries of organizing such events.
Russia isolated from sporting events
For instance, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has refused to lift FIFA's ban on Russia participating in the World Cup playoffs for 2022.
Similarly, European football's governing body UEFA had punished Russia by stripping Saint Petersburg of hosting the Champions League final on May 28 and awarding it to Paris.
UEFA's decision was quickly followed by Formula One announcing they were canceling this year's Russian Grand Prix that was supposed to be held in Sochi on March 25.
In addition, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had urged sports federations and organizers to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events.