Russian athletes are not ‘traitors’ if they change nationality – Reuters


Tatiana Navka says Russian sports stars should not be judged if they attack

No Russian athlete considering changing their nationality should be stigmatized in the face of widespread sports sanctions. “traitors”, according to former Olympic ice dancing queen Tatiana Navka.

Russian and Belarusian sports stars have been banned from several international competitions in the wake of Moscow’s military attack on Ukraine amid uncertainty over when sweeping bans will be lifted.

This has led to speculation that a wave of athletes from both countries may try to obtain citizenship elsewhere to avoid sports sanctions.

READ MORE: Sports sanctions: how does Russia compare to other nations?

But no divers should be censored in their own country, according to Navka, who won Olympic gold in 2006 and is a two-time world champion.

“When it comes to athletes who have changed citizenship, I would say don’t react so abruptly to their actions and bring everybody together,” he added. Navka told RBC Sport.

“It is not correct to call everyone a traitor without distinction. Everyone has their own life, their own story and their own reasons. Everyone has the right to choose.” He added the 46-year-old man, who is married to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

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The likes of iconic figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova haven’t ruled out that the current bans imposed on Russians that caused them to miss the World Figure Skating Championships in France last month could lead to them changing their citizenship, especially if the situation continues.

But Tarasova put the blame on the International Skating Union (ISU) door after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a general ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes in early March on a recommendation.

“ISU criminals take the lives of our athletes”, said the senior exercise icon.

“We are responsible for this, not the ISU. They are traitors. Therefore, in this case, the change of sports citizenship is not considered a betrayal in my opinion. I certainly will not condemn the athletes for their decisions.

This view contrasts sharply with comments from those who say that Russian sports figures like world heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev would see it as a betrayal if he changed his allegiance in the current climate.

” VSClinging to sports citizenship is a real betrayal. Therefore, very few people would dare to do that.” Said the 7-meter giant, who is now a State Duma deputy.

READ MORE: Russian boxing giant warns ‘traitors’ against changing nationality

After being banned from the World Championships in Montpellier, figure skating stars like Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova and teen sensation Kamila Valieva appeared at the Channel One Cup exhibition in Saransk, Russia.

The ISU announced on Tuesday that it is weighing the views of its members before making further decisions on the participation of Russian and Belarusian skaters ahead of the meeting on April 24.