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Over 200 Russian athletes swap sports citizenship after start of full-scale invasion of Ukraine

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine has resulted in numerous Russian athletes being barred from participating in international competitions. However, independent media outlet Holod has reported that at least 204 Russian athletes have changed their “sports citizenship” between 2022 and 2023, as determined through open-source data, and will soon be representing other countries.. The list includes established professionals, including European and world champions in their respective sports, as well as promising young athletes embarking on their careers.

Out of the 200+ athletes who changed sports federations, the majority are chess players, with 141 athletes identified through open sources. Among them is Alexandra Kosteniuk, one of the most successful athletes in the history of Russian chess: Grandmaster, 12th women's world chess champion, two-time Russian champion, European champion, and a three-time winner of the World Chess Olympiads as a member of the national team. She will now represent Switzerland.

Figure skating and equestrian sports follow with 11 athletes each, including Diana Davis, the daughter of renowned Russian coach Eteri Tutberidze, who, along with her ice dancing partner Gleb Smolkin, has been permitted by the Russian Figure Skating Federation to compete for the Georgian national team.

Rhythmic gymnastics and tennis occupy third place, with 5 athletes each announcing a change of sports citizenship. Notably, Anastasia Simakova, a two-time junior world champion in rhythmic gymnastics, will now compete for Germany starting from 2024.

In fourth place are motorsports and football, with 4 athletes each leaving Russia. Many of these athletes have established themselves at the highest level, as noted by Holod.

Cycling, motorcycle racing, speed skating, hockey, swimming, rowing, boxing, and sailing each saw the departure of 2 athletes from Russia.

Lastly, freestyle wrestling, track and field, biathlon, short track, MMA, judo, artistic gymnastics, and alpine skiing each lost one athlete.

Holod highlights that the actual number of Russians changing their sports citizenship may be considerably higher, as a significant portion of the data is attributed to young athletes who are not yet publicly recognized.

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