Russia’s teenage figure skating prodigies have been told that they will not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and will avoid a three-week quarantine before competing at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Alexander Kogan, director general of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, told Russian state news agency TASS any skaters under the age of 18 will not be required to be inoculated before flying to the Chinese capital.
Kamila Valieva, 15, Alexandra Trusova, 17, and Anna Shcherbakova, also 17, were selected as part of Russia’s team for the European Figure Skating Championships in Talllin in Estonia last weekend.
The trio are also in contention to represent the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“In accordance with the recommendations and regulations of the Organising Committee of the Games and according to the law of our country, minors in the national team will not be vaccinated,” said Kogan.
Kogan’s comments come after ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov announced in November that unvaccinated athletes under the age of 18 will be exempt from undergoing China’s quarantine rules.
Under the COVID-19 requirements set out by Beijing 2022 organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), participants must isolate for three weeks upon arrival in China if they are not fully vaccinated before entering the “closed-loop management system” in place for the Games.
Pozdnyakov said he had been informed that this will not apply to minors.
“Speaking about the vaccination of underage athletes, we’ve received confirmation after our consultations with the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and the Organising Committee that in our case they would not be a part of the category of athletes subjected to the 21-day quarantine,” said the ROC President.
“Provisionally, there will be around seven athletes under 18 on our roster – three in figure skating competitions and four in freestyle [skiing] competitions.”
The Russian Health Ministry approved in November the use of a new Sputnik M coronavirus vaccine for children aged between 12 and 17.
Several National Olympic Committees, including the United States and Canada, have issued a vaccine mandate for athletes looking to participate at the Winter Olympics.
The Japanese Government is reportedly considering giving booster vaccines to the country’s Beijing 2022 delegation due to concerns over the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Rigorous COVID-19 countermeasures are set to be imposed at the Games, with all participants entering the “closed-loop management system”.
Once within the loop, people will undergo daily testing for COVID-19 and will be unable to access the outside world for the duration of their time in Beijing.
Michael Ryan, emergencies director for the World Health Organization, said it was “confident” in the coronavirus prevention measures implemented by Beijing 2022 organisers and did not foresee any increased risk of transmission.
Beijing is scheduled to host the Winter Olympics from February 4 to 20, followed by the Winter Paralympics from March 4 to 13.