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Russian Olympic chief says national team’s extended roster for Tokyo Games approved

Some 50% of the Russian Olympic team’s athletes had been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus

MOSCOW, June 29. /TASS/. An extended roster of 335 athletes of the Russian national team for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo has been approved, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said on Tuesday.

"We have approved a roster of the Russian Olympic team for the upcoming Games in Tokyo, which contains 335 athletes," Pozdnyakov said speaking to journalists after the ROC Executive Committee’s meeting earlier in the day.

"Compared to the previous [2016 Summer Olympic] Games, our national team was increased by 50 more people," Pozdnyakov continued. "Our delegation is larger now and we are waiting for the outcome of our basketball team’s [qualifying] performance to finalize the roster."

The Russian Olympic chief also expressed his hope that the national team’s athletes would enter the Top Three of the overall medal winners of the Summer Games in Japan.

"The [Russian] team finished 4th in the overall medals standings at the previous Olympic Games and this time we are expecting a step forward to see the national team on the podium of the unofficial medals count," Pozdnyakov said adding that the ROC did not set this time an estimated medals goal for the national team.

At the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro the Russian national team finished fourth in the overall medals standings (19 gold, 17 silver and 20 bronze). The top three national teams of the 2016 Olympics are the United States (46 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze), Great Britain (27-23-17) and China (26-18-26).

"We are keeping statistics of our national athletes’ performances at world championships," he continued. "Unfortunately, our data is incomplete because many championships in various sports world competitions were canceled last season."

"Our database offers us feedback from 2018, 2019 and partially from 2020," Pozdnyakov said. "Therefore, all results that we are considering at the moment give us a hope of finishing the Olympics [in Tokyo] third in the overall medals standings, with a total amount of won medals at about 50."

The ROC president also said that some 50% of the Russian Olympic team’s athletes had been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

"The vaccination is a proposed recommendation because it is a very sensitive issue," Pozdnyakov said. "The epidemiological situation is getting worse and we are trying to stick to the principle of goodwill."

"Our athletes may be using any of the [anti-COVID-19] vaccines that are certified and are on offer in Russia," Pozdnyakov continued. "Perhaps, those holding training camps outside Russia, will be using vaccines, which are certified on the territories of their trainings."

"The most important thing for all athletes is to safeguard themselves [against the coronavirus] and secure their participation in the Olympics," Pozdnyakov said. "I must state that there were a reported number of cases of infections and their [the athletes’] participation in the Games might be questioned."

"Fifty percent of all athletes have been already vaccinated, a part of the team received a first jab and currently waits for the second injection of the vaccine," he said.

The Russian Olympic chief also said that there would be two flag bearers of the national team at the Games in Tokyo opening ceremony and they are Russia’s 2016 Olympic Champion in saber fencing Sofya Velikaya and Maxim Mikhailov, the 2012 Olympic champion in men’s volleyball competitions.

"The ROC issued a recommendation today to name Olympic Champions Maxim Mikhailov and Sofya Velikaya as the flag bearers of the national delegation [at the Olympics in Tokyo]," he said. "There must be two people now as the Games are observing the gender equality this year and all national Olympic Committees [NOCs] will be represented by two flag-bearers."

Russia’s flag bearers at the most recent Summer Games were represented by volleyball player Sergei Tetyukhin at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, tennis player Maria Sharapova at the 2012 Olympics in London and basketball player Andrei Kirilenko at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Japan’s capital of Tokyo will be held this year between July 23 and August 8. In March 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Japan for one year due to the spread of COVID-19.

As of today, Japan is ranked 34th globally in terms of reported COVID-19 cases, which currently stand at over 796,820. A total of over 14,700 people have died of the novel coronavirus infection there, while more than 764,910 have recovered from the illness.