On July 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decision to renounce his Russian citizenship by 23-year-old biathlete Larisa Zhurauskaite, who will represent Lithuania from the new season.
Against the background of the statement of the first racket of Russia, Daria Kasatkina, who advised young athletes to consider changing their sports citizenship in order to continue performing, some sports figures managed to accuse such athletes of treason.
Here is what the two-time Olympic champion Dmitry Vasilyev had to say about his departure:
“I think after a while he will regret it. But it will be extremely difficult for him to regain his Russian citizenship. I think this is an attempt to avoid additional competition with Russian athletes, because getting into our team is not so easy and in Lithuania he can be among the leaders, ”said Match TV.
Žurauskaite responded to such accusations by stating that he did not consider himself a traitor.
“All the talk that I was a traitor, that I fled Russia and left just because there was no hope here is complete nonsense.
I just wanted to try myself, especially since I’m really interested.
I get less financially in Lithuania than in my area, so it’s not about money,” Zhurauskaite said in an interview with Match TV.
The athlete said that the first meetings with representatives of the Lithuanian Biathlon Federation took place in May 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“At that moment, nothing was clear about my sporting future. The coach of the team came to me, after which the first meeting with the head of the federation took place. They found me in the protocols of Russian competitions. I just saw a Lithuanian surname.
Even then we started collecting documents and in March 2021 it was learned that I would be granted citizenship in Lithuania as it was very difficult to obtain. Immediately after that, I was invited to the training camp, and since May 2021 I have already been training with the Lithuanian team, ”concluded Zurauskaite.
Four-time Olympic biathlon champion Alexander Tikhonov noted in an interview with a socialbites.ca correspondent that the practice of changing citizenship is not only common for athletes.
“I don’t see any betrayal in this. Enough high-ranking officials have children who go abroad, change their citizenship, get an education, etc. Chubais left – what do you call him? That’s what I call a traitor.
I did not change my citizenship, now I live in Belarus – what, now you consider me a traitor? State of the Union, all is well.
Conditions must be created so that athletes do not leave. Nobody wants to work as a coach for such a miserable salary. Formerly it was considered an honor if we worked with me as a coach in the Soviet Union and in Russia (from 1996 to 2008 Tikhonov headed the Russian Biathlon Union – socialbites.ca), now we convince them. It is necessary to create conditions – we are the richest country, ”Tikhonov told socialbites.ca.
Russian biathletes often resort to changing their citizenship and moving to other teams, so there is nothing unusual in the Zhurauskaite case.
The most successful athlete transferred from the Russian national team is Anastasia Kuzmina. Until 2007, Anton Shipulin’s sister played for her homeland, but did not achieve significant results – her best result at the World Cup was 13th place in the individual race at the Östersund stage in November 2006.
In December 2008, Kuzmina moved with her husband Daniel to Slovakia and obtained citizenship. For ten years, as part of the Slovak biathlete team, he climbed the gold podium of the Olympic Games three times, won a total of six medals, became the world champion and twice the European champion.
Often before the Olympic Games, sports citizenship changes – the countries hosting the competition have increased quotas as they can represent their athletes in all sports. However, countries do not manage to develop all Olympic disciplines equally – in such cases they resort to strengthening at the expense of foreigners. So in 2018, Timofey Lapshin had the opportunity to speak at the Games, defending the honor of South Korea.
Former Russian biathlete Timofey Lapshin shows off his new South Korean passport, where he will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang
Domestic biathletes also like to switch to the national teams of the countries of the former USSR – during the last Olympic cycle, six athletes simultaneously chose Ukraine to continue their sports careers. These are Daria Sidorova, Ekaterina Bekh, Olga Abramova, Anastasia Rasskazova, Oksana Moskalenko and Nadezhda Belkina.
For several years, Olga Yakusheva, sisters Irina and Elena Kruchinkin, Arina Yaborova and Anna Musatova have been in Belarus for several years.
In November 2020, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) tightened the rules for transfers from one country to another to protect the interests of national sports federations. According to the first requirement of the new charter of the organization, the athlete must be considered a citizen of the country in which he wishes to play until he reaches the age of 15.
After that, he needs to prove his connection with the new country – this can be done by marriage or permanent residence in the territory of another state.