First Russian Team to Qualify, Individual Athletes Struggle with Visa Applications

July 15, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Kolesnikov Team
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At the close of the Asia Invitational, the Kolesnikov Team sat head and shoulders above the rest of their opponents, finishing 15 points above Team Dubai and nearly 100 points above the third placed team. Their victory marks the first time in history that a Russian team has qualified for the CrossFit Games, paired with four individual Russian athletes, and the start of what the Kolesnikov Team hopes will become a legacy of Russian CrossFit athletes. 

  • The issue now is that at least two individuals, Roman Khrennikov and Svetlana Kubyshkina, and the entire Kolesnikov Team are struggling to secure visas to travel.  

One big thing: CrossFit doesn’t intend to backfill these positions, according to an email that was sent from CrossFit Games staff to an athlete in a backfill position who wouldn’t be barred from traveling to Madison. 

  • “At this point [CrossFit] will not be backfilling any further if athletes are unable to make it to the Games,” the email stated. 
  • CrossFit was able to secure special clearance from the Department of Homeland Security for Games athletes from COVID-restricted countries to travel, but this isn’t the issue Russian athletes are currently facing. 
  • Because they qualified so late in the season and need to get their visa in time to travel next week, they had to apply through an emergency application, which makes it even more unlikely for them to get their visas.

The big picture: It would be unfortunate for not only the first Russian team to qualify, but multiple individuals to miss the Games and have those lanes go unfilled. The door isn’t closed completely as both Kolesnikov Team and Khrennikov have interviews with the consulate soon. The status of the other athletes remains unclear. 

  • “We are very proud to be the first Russian team to go to the Games. For us it is very important, because we want to show our community that nothing is impossible and that the level of CrossFit in Russia is rising every year,” they said.
  • “We will know about the visas at the end of this week, but most likely we won’t succeed this time,” they added.

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