Featured Image: Emily Uzzle | Marlin Chronicle
When Russia invaded Ukraine in Feb. 2022, people were quick to take to social media and express their thoughts on Russian and Belarusian athletes and allowing them to compete in their respective sports. It was not until a month later that World Aquatics, the governing body of international water sports, decided Russian and Belarusian athletes would be banned from competing at the 2022 World Championships that took place in Budapest, Hungary. Despite the fact that World Aquatics made the decision on March 8, it was not announced until March 23.
It wasn’t until Sept. 4 that World Aquatics announced that Russian and Belarusian athletes would be allowed to compete at World Aquatic events if they adhered to specific rules. For starters, they need to be in compliance with all regulations given out by World Aquatics. They are not allowed to be in a contract with their countries militaries or any agency for national security. Additionally, they may not support the war in Ukraine, either from the start or now. This includes both non-verbal and verbal forms of support. They are to not participate in any pro-war demonstrations or wear any symbol of support for the war.
Along with these rules, there are others, one being that qualifying needs to be done outside Russia or Belarus. No flags from the two countries are allowed, same with the national anthems. Uniforms need to be approved by World Aquatics, and they need to be plain white. Lastly, the athletes are not allowed to do interviews with the media.
In my opinion, it is not worth it for the Russian and Belarusian athletes putting their lives at risk just to compete. Russia especially has been known for arresting their citizens who are against their government. Russian athletes are dependent on their government for funding and if they announce they are anti-war, they’re going against their government and putting themselves and their families at risk. I think it is better if World Aquatics does not allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete for the safety of the athletes who are truly anti-war.
By: Colette Kearney