Russia will not be betting on foreign athletes by granting them national citizenship to achieve high results at international sports competitions, according to Alexander Zhukov, President of the Russian Olympic Committee. “We need to rely on our domestic athletes as we have a lot of talented young athletes,” Zhukov is quoted as saying by the Russian Itar-Tass wire service. “Of course, we had a couple of instances, like at the Olympics in Sochi, but they are not connected with the naturalization tendency. It is obvious that the main hope is in our athletes.”
The issue of naturalizing foreign athletes by granting them Russian citizenship came to media
spotlight again over recent rumors that Brazilian football striker Francisco Wanderson, currently playing for Russia’s Krasnodar FC, and a number of Kenyan long-distance runners could be granted Russian
citizenship to compete for the national team.
At last winter’s Sochi Olympics where US-born snowboarder Vic Wild and South Korea-born Viktor Ahn, who performed for the Russian national Olympic squad in Sochi, together brought the team five gold medals, accounting for almost 40% of the total gold medals won by Russia at the Winter Olympics. At the Sochi Winter Olymics Russia won a total of 33 medals (13 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze medals), surpassing its previous Winter Olympics record of 11 gold medals, set at the 1994 Winter Games in Norway’s Lillehammer.
Zhukov’s came on the same day, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainian chess grandmaster Yekaterina Lagno, giving her the green light to compete for the Russian national women team at the Chess Olympiad in Norway’s Tromso next month.
This article was republished with permission from Karl-Heinz Huba, the editor and publisher of the Sport Intern.