The president of global swimming authority FINA, Husain Al-Musallam, has commented on the potential switch of Russian swimming to Asian jurisdiction so that Russian athletes can potentially qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic games.
Russian athletes have been banned from sports such as swimming since earlier this year, when federations including FINA followed an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation to suspend them as a response to the military operation in Ukraine.
After an IOC Olympic Summit on Friday in Lausanne, the IOC said that participants “unanimously agreed” to explore a proposal by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to “facilitate the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in competitions in Asia under its authority, while respecting the sanctions in place.”
Earlier this month, the president of the Russian Diving Federation (RDF), Stanislav Druzhinin, said that the organization was in talks with FINA about switching to the Asian Swimming Federation (AASF) from the European Swimming League (LEN).
Asked about the topic at a FINA extraordinary general congress, where the organization announced it would change its name to World Aquatics, Al-Musallam insisted that no decision had been made “in relation to the participation of Russian athletes at this moment.”
Al-Musallam revealed that a way for the situation to be resolved with respect to the Olympic true, which is a United Nations resolution, was being studied.
But he also insisted that sport should be kept “neutral,” “free,” and governed by those involved in sports.
“And [as] for the participation of the Russian and the Belarusian [athletes] for the next Olympic Games, this [is a] decision the whole Olympic family will decide. But [it’s a decision that has] not yet been taken at this moment,” he added.
Regarding Russia “asking to join Asia,” Al-Musallam said that Russia “did not request this” officially and has merely proposed it.
Al-Musallam said that the idea of Russian athletes being cleared to compete at the Paris Games would only become a reality if the “whole world and the Olympic movement” invite Russians to attempt to qualify from Asian trial competitions.
Speaking to TASS, Druzhinin previously said that the RDF was “in dialogue with FINA, unlike the European federation.”
“We have a very difficult dialogue with it, it’s more likely that it doesn’t exist at all,” Druzhinin added.
“We didn’t go to international competitions this year, but we work and talk with FINA. We have repeatedly told [FINA president] Mr. Husain Al Musallam that we would like to move to the Asian federation and leave the European one, to participate in the Asian Championship and Asian competitions.”
Druzhinin said that FINA was “thinking about” the switch and that the international federation “will come up with a decision soon,” which Al-Musallam has said is not completely dependent on his organization.