FINA Cancels Two Events But Leaves World Championships, Junior & Senior, “Under Close Review” As Putin’s Murderous Attack On Ukraine & Its Sovereignty Continues
War on Ukraine – FINA has cancelled water polo and synchronised swimming events scheduled at Russian venues for March and April but has left the World Championships, junior long-course and senior short-course, scheduled for Kazan in August and December “under close review” despite the murderous advance of Vladimir Putin’s troops in Ukraine.
After consultation with athletes and federations, says FINA, it cancelled two upcoming events in St Petersburg and Kazan and condemned “all acts of aggression” while stating that it remains “extremely concerned by the escalation of conflict in Ukraine”.
By “conflict”, FINA – which gave its highest honour, the FINA Order, to Putin in 2014 – means the invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine, a sovereign nation that wants the foreign aggressor to withdraw to its own territory.
Just why FINA is holding back on the two major swimming events scheduled for Kazan later in the year is not explained in the federation’s statement but a source close to FINA said: “If there is no dramatic change in the situation in Ukraine, it would be inconceivable that the Junior events could happen in Kazan. Finding alternative hosts is something that will take time but consideration is already being given.”
Nonetheless, the lack of immediacy has already raised eyebrows among key stakeholders asking, as one senior observer has: “Why are they hesitating when international laws have been broken, when an invasion is under way, when Governments and institutions and agencies all over the world are calling this ‘war’ and ‘a criminal act of aggression’?”
The International Olympic Committee today urged all international sports federations to cancel any events scheduled for Russia and Belarus. FINA has yet to do that.
As one source close to FINA put it: “I thought the IOC has urged them all to cancel all events. Aren’t they listening? Do they think that what’s happened is going to be forgivable anytime soon, anytime this year or for the foreseeable future?”
So far, FINA simply says: “Other FINA events that are scheduled in Russia for later in the year are under close review, with FINA monitoring events in Ukraine very carefully.”
FINA mentions athletes training for Budapest World titles in June but makes no mention of the fact that Hungary neighbours Ukraine, with fighting and bombs going off in the west of the country near Hungary.
Such matters are harder to determine, given that the attack on Ukraine is not yet over nor can its direction be determined. That it happened at all is enough for the international community to put Putin’s Russia in the sin bin for as long as his regime remains in power.
The FINA Statement in Full
While continuing to hold the view that sport should remain politically neutral, FINA condemns all acts of aggression and is extremely concerned by the escalation of conflict in Ukraine.
All athletes, including those preparing for the 19th FINA World Championships Budapest 2022, deserve to feel safe in their training and competitive environment, and importantly, to be heard.
Following consultation with many athletes, in addition to National Federations and concerned members of the FINA Family, the forthcoming FINA Men’s Water Polo World League game (RUS v GRE) will no longer take place as scheduled in St. Petersburg (8 March).
Furthermore, the cluster event of FINA Artistic Swimming and Diving World Series in Kazan will be cancelled (8-10 April).
Where alternative arrangements can be made for these events, they will be communicated as soon as possible.
Other FINA events that are scheduled in Russia for later in the year are under close review, with FINA monitoring events in Ukraine very carefully.
FINA pledges to provide whatever practical support it can give to any member of our Aquatic family impacted by this situation.