Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia won silver in the coxless pair at Tokyo 2020. GETTY IMAGES

The President of the Russian Rowing Federation (RFR), Alexey Svirin, made an important announcement: "A week ago, after several months of silence, we received an answer from the International Rowing Federation".

"The last time we communicated with World Rowing was in December, and then we were told that 2023 was over and that there could be other conditions for the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Olympic season," he added, as quoted by TASS. "A week ago we received information from World Rowing that men's and women's singles and coxless doubles could compete in the European qualifying regatta. My understanding is that the entry system will remain the same as last year," he continued. 

"Athletes will have to undergo anti-doping and background checks, they will not be involved in CBOs and so on. We do not yet know how much these checks will cost. It is also not yet clear whether applicants for neutral status will have to sign any declarations. These questions have not yet been answered by World Rowing," Svirin pointed out. 

The likelihood of our athletes taking part in the Olympic qualifying regatta is increasing, but we do not yet have a full understanding of the issue. We are trying to get in touch with the international federation, we have offered to hold a video conference, but we have not yet received an answer," he said. 

Athens 2024 Olympic champion Alexey Svirin is the head of the RFR. WIKIPEDIA
Athens 2024 Olympic champion Alexey Svirin is the head of the RFR. WIKIPEDIA

The European qualifying regatta will be held in Szeged, Hungary, from 25-28 April. The final stage of the selection process will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland, where the final qualifying regatta will take place from 19-21 May. "We have not yet been able to process the entry visas for Hungary. First we need to receive an invitation from the regatta organisers. Without this, the visa centre will not be able to accept the athletes' documents," added the FSGR boss.

After reading Svirin's quotes, one question remains. Will World Rowing really allow Russian athletes to compete for a place at the Olympic Games? Perhaps the organisation will clarify its position clear in the coming days.