Solidarity Games as import substitution

Kazan is compensating for the international calendar almost non-stop

The first stage of Solidarity Games kicked off in Kazan on 19 July. Swimmers will contend first, divers will join the fight after them and synchronised swimmers will be the last to get their medals. Realnoe Vremya’s sports staff tells you about the upcoming competitions and draws an analogy between the events of the past.

Solidarity Games in Kazan

The Solidarity Games are divided into approximately three equal components. The first part of the trilogy named the World is in late July and early August — swimming (19-26 July), diving (24-30 July) and synchronised swimming (28 July — 3 August). Minister of Sport Oleg Matytsin presented the first competition of these tournaments or, more precisely, the swimming World and noted that about 1,000 people not only from Russia but also Belarus, Algeria, Venezuela, Vietnam, Serbia, Syria, Sudan, Tajikistan, Ecuador, the SAR, PRD and PRL would compete.

Talking about the serious sports component, with the optimal development of events, besides Russian competitors one could count on the competition from Belarus, Serbia and the SAR. However, the political events in Belarus in 2019 seriously split even the sports community. For instance, the spouse of famous swimmer Aliaksandra Herasimenia Yauhen Tsurkin performed at the Olympics in Tokyo and then lashed out at President Alexander Lukashenko his spouse had been repeatedly famous for. But here it is necessary to consider the circumstance that Tsurkin is over 30 and he was retiring from swimming. Now the swimming stars of Belarus are Ilya Shymanovich, world short course champion, Anastasiya Shkurdai who won medals of the European Short Course Championships in Kazan last year together with Shymanovich, Alina Zmushka who had already competed in Kazan.

Belarusians are banned from international competitions too, but Serbia participated in the World Championship in Budapest, now it is preparing for the European Championship in Italy, which starts on 11 August. Now Velimir Stjepanović is considered the recognised leader of Serbian swimming if he comes to Kazan, this will adorn the sprint freestyle competitions. But for the SAR whose swimmers were disappointed with the results of the 2020 WC where only Lara van Niekerk won a bronze for the country that has Chad le Clo it is too little. Le Clo wasn’t himself in Budapest, perhaps we will see him in Kazan because this season there are only three World Cup legs (last season, there were four, but Kazan lost the right to host it and the substitute wasn’t found).

Sport and Legends

Announcing divers and synchronised swimmers’ competitions, we have to note that here a lot of will turn on the level of the countries that are going to compete. The second stage of the competitions named Sport (9-26 November) will consist of the Tatarstan President Diving Cup and the Russian Short Course Swimming Championship. The third leg called the Legends (8-17 December) will be organised together with renowned Russian athletes. Its programme will include the Vladimir Salnikov Swimming Cup, the Svetlana Romashina Synchronised Swimming Cup and the Dmitry Sautin Diving Cup. The arrival of guests is also an important component of the competitions. For instance, if China comes, this will immediately take the competition to the next level.

It is noteworthy that the International Summer Olympics are due to start at the same time in China’s Chengdu, which was postponed last year because of the coronavirus epidemic. It was going to be held but won’t be held at all. The 2023 Universiade in Yekaterinburg is also under the questions. In other words, many athletes lost competitions, it seems to be logical to give them some substitution, but at the moment we see how China consistently competed in the World Championship, is performing in the World Games in Birmingham, the USA (in non-Olympic sports) and is ready to compete in the World Athletic Championships in Eugene, America. Apparently, Chinese synchronised swimmers are competing at the World Games, they will also miss the Minsk tournament named the Crystal Rose, which will be held simultaneously with the swimmers’ tournament in Kazan. Seemingly, Nikol Rimarachin Diaz will be the only foreign athlete in Minsk, but she is Muscovite of Spanish origin.

How sports “import substitution” is going

Closing the topic about China, we should note that the stake on it as a partner is at the moment working 50/50. For instance, the Chinese Volleyball Federation agreed that the local national team would play in the French Championship next season, which is the reigning Olympic champion and host the next Olympics in Paris. The participation fee is over €1 million and reminds us about China trying to develop its football several years ago by fielding the youth team in Germany’s championship. In the end the project was scrubbed as soon as activists of the fight for the freedom of the Tiber started to appear in the stands.

On the other hand, handball federations of China and Russia managed to come to an agreement that the women’s team from the Celestial Kingdom will compete in the country’s women’s championship. Moreover, the agreement was ratified by First Aide to the Chinese Sports Minister Wan Tao, a formed handball player of the local squad. She reached certain agreements with the Russian Water Polo Federation, but unfortunately there is nothing specific there.

It turns out that Russian water polo unlike its colleagues in swimming, diving and synchronised swimming has nothing, without the world championship the men’s team finally qualified for, without the European championship, with some weak tournament with the national and youth teams of Belarus. The colleagues from above-mentioned volleyball will at least have the Spartakiade (the men’s tournament will be from 11 to 21 August, the women’s — from 17 to 25 August), the preliminary stage is scheduled to be in Kazan (11-13 August), which will allow the Tatarstan capital’s sports venues to compensate for the competitions of the international calendar that were taken away almost non-stop.

Sintez divers’ successes

To finish on a positive note, we will mention the Tatarstan divers’ successes, which are almost on the conveyor belt. Even without the competition in the WC, we were noted because Maria Polyakova was elected a member of the Athletes’ Commission of the FINA. The athlete of Sintez Aquatic Sports Club was so inspired by the recognition that start to win medals in the national competition of the country both individually and in the doubles. She won gold in the 1 m springboard, a win in 3 m the synchronised springboard together with Vitalia Korolyova from Moscow. Her colleague at Sintez Nikita Shleikher unofficially competes with Polyakova, he won gold in the 3 m springboard and synchronised 3 m springboard with Yevgeny Kuznetsov. Finally, Alexander Belevtsev together with Moscow-born Sandro Rogava got bronze in the synchronised platform.

It is curious that like in rhythmic gymnastics, here there is Russian Spaniard Nikol Rimarachin Diaz Timur Haile Mariam from Penza drew the attention. Judging by his last name, he is Ethiopian. Here we cannot help but mention Russia’s vice champion in athletics who won silver in the country’s nationals in Kazan — Emilia Tangara. The runner of Mali origin showed off in the 400 m obstacle event. Sadly, athletics is also an outlaw on the international stage as well as water polo.

Jaudat Abdullin

The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.