(Reuters) – The president of Poland’s swimming federation (PZP) has apologised after six athletes were sent home from the Tokyo Games due to an administrative error.
Poland had sent 23 swimmers to Japan but the PZP was forced to cut the squad down to 17 based on world governing body FINA’s qualifying rules.
PZP President Pawel Slominski apologised and said he fully understood the anger of the swimmers who returned home over the weekend.
“I express great regret, sadness and bitterness about the situation related to the qualification of our swimmers for the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Slominski said in a statement http://www.polswim.pl/sites/default/files/oswiadczenie_prezesa_pzp.pdf.
“Such a situation should not take place, and the reaction of the swimmers, their emotions, the attack on the Polish Swimming Federation is understandable to me and justified.”
He said the error was due to the “desire to allow as many players and coaches as possible to take part in the Games”.
Media reports identified the six swimmers as Alicja Tchorz, Bartosz Piszczorowicz, Aleksandra Polanska, Mateusz Chowaniec, Dominika Kossakowska and Jan Holub.
Tchorz, who competed at the 2012 and 2016 Games, expressed her anger on social media.
“Imagine dedicating five years of your life and striving for another start at the most important sporting event … giving up your private life and work, sacrificing your family … your dedication results in a total flop,” she said on Facebook.
Chowaniec added on Instagram: “I’m deeply shocked by what happened… this is an absurd situation for me that should never have happened. In fact, I hope to wake up from this nightmare eventually.”
Swimming news website SwimSwam reported several Polish swimmers had signed an open letter to the PZP seeking the resignation of the organisation’s entire board.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)