OREANDA-NEWS. Athletes of the Russian national speed skating team were unable to fly to the USA to participate in the World Cup and will go home to await permission to enter the country. Varvara Barysheva, executive director of the Russian Speed Skating Union, told Match TV.

The national team members are currently in Amsterdam, where they were to board a flight to the United States, but because they have not been vaccinated with World Health Organization (WHO) approved coronavirus vaccines, they require special permission to enter the United States from the tournament organizing committee and American authorities. Barysheva reported on the delay in obtaining permission on 22 November.

"We have received a reply from the organizing committee. We have no decision on our question yet, and as there is only one workday left in the US due to Thanksgiving Day (falling on November 25 in the US this year - RBC), we were recommended to fly to Russia and wait for a decision there,"- said Barysheva.

She said the skaters will go to Russia, where they will train at the base in Kolomna, waiting for a chance to compete. "Our hopes of being able to go to the Salt Lake World Cup are slim to none,"- Barysheva said.

According to her, the Russian side attributes what happened to the shortcomings of the organizing committee of the tournament and the International Skating Union. "If we cannot fly to the USA, we plan to appeal to all kinds of international institutions, as we are deprived of an opportunity to be selected for the Olympics on an equal basis with other national teams,"- Barysheva said.

The teams were scheduled to fly to the USA November 22 for the Salt Lake City World Cup. They will compete December 3-5, and their performances in the Cup events are decisive in determining their eligibility for the Beijing Olympics.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, entry into the United States is now unimpeded for those who are fully vaccinated with nationally or WHO-approved vaccines or who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. AstraZeneca, BIBP/Sinopharm, Covishield, Janssen, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac are approved vaccines in the US.