Deniss Vasiljevs: “I don’t support the admission of Russian athletes to the Olympics. Time must pass, the war must end, everyone must look at what happened and understand the situation, and only then can we start talking about it.”

Posted on 2023-02-05 • 8 comments


Deniss Vasiljevs about European Championships, preparation for Worlds and his attitude towards possible return of Russian athletes to the competitions.

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source: dd. 4 February 2023 by Roland Elins

Latvian figure skater Deniss Vasiljevs, after taking fifth place at the European Championships, admitted in a conversation with the Sportacentrs portal that he was left with a feeling of unfulfillment both because of his skating and because of the place. He also stated that after winning Latvian Sportsman of the Year, he feels extra pressure to perform better and expressed his thoughts on the IOC’s plan to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete in the Olympic Games. “I don’t think it should be considered at this point. I certainly wouldn’t have any sense of security that it would be a good move.”

“The word to describe my performance at the European Championship would probably be ‘unfulfilled,’ ” said Denis Vasiljevs, who was in third place after the short program but took fifth place overall. “I know that I can skate really well, and I’ve done some really amazing performances, and I just had to do it again. Don’t think too much; don’t start thinking about other things; just do it. But I tried to improve a little; I tried to complicate the programs a little, but in the end, I didn’t get complete satisfaction and didn’t get the number of points that I had hoped for. 

“The European Championships in Finland were a bit different than usual. Due to the fact that there were no Russian athletes, it was more interesting from a sporting point of view,” Vasiljevs said. “Let me explain: Russian athletes in figure skating are still among the leaders in Europe, maybe not so pronounced in my discipline, but in general, and now that the entire balance of forces has changed accordingly, the situation is accordingly more interesting.”

Vasiljevs has publicly emphasized several times that his priority at the competitions is not the place taken, but the connection established with the fans and presenting his skating to them, as well as personal emotions. He admitted that the competitions held in Espoo did not go as well as he had hoped. 

“Like in a fairy tale, I probably lacked emotions in my heart; somehow it got too cold,” said the Latvian figure skater. “In figure skating, however, you need to feel easy and free, not tense and thinking too much about what exactly needs to be done and what elements to complete.”

Vasiljevs now has the World Championships in Japan ahead of him in March. He will have one more competition in February before that, but then he will have four weeks to prepare for the biggest competitions of the season. “I don’t want to say that I will prepare for the Worlds then, because I am already ready,” he laughed. “But there will still be time to polish some things and get myself in the right mood for the competitions, so I can go on the ice ready for a great skate.”

Vasiljevs has the 11th-best result in the world this season. Does he think it’s a fair reflection of his place among figure skating’s elite? “Yes and no,” Vasiljevs said thoughtfully. “However, points and places are not the main emphasis in my competitions, and points alone are not the best comparison. Will I be happy if I get into the top ten at Worlds? Yes, in terms of places, I probably will, but I will emphasize again that we calculate a lot of things in terms of places and results tables.”

This month, Vasiljevs received the Three Star Award as Latvia’s athlete of 2022, for which he expressed surprise, joy, and honor. “It’s a great honor for me, absolutely,” Vasiljevs said. “The biggest joy for me is that my sport has been appreciated in this way in Latvia; it has been noticed, and such an award is an advertisement for all figure skating.”

“Does this put more pressure on me now to prove something to someone, namely that this award has been given to the right person? I will say that I have additional motivation to achieve better results and show better skating,” admitted Vasiljevs. “At the same time, it’s also an opportunity to explain my position and my views on what I consider sports to be. I saw some sports programs recently where they talked about competitions and training. Don’t get me wrong; obviously training is hard work and it’s necessary, but what was said there seemed so hard and harsh to me that sport was presented there almost as a war. I can’t agree with that and would like to show a different view of sports. You have to enjoy what you do, try to become a better person, and develop yourself through sport.”

During the conversation, the non-admission of Russian figure skaters to the competition was already noted, and Vasiljevs did not deny that he was also aware of the current discussion in the sports community, namely, the topic promoted by the International Olympic Committee regarding the admission of athletes from the aggressor countries Russia and Belarus to the Olympic Games, because the opposite option “would mean discrimination against them.”

“Yes, I have an opinion on that,” he said. “Knowing what is happening in the world right now and remembering the doping case of the Russian skater Valieva at the Beijing Games, it is difficult for me to say, “Yes, let’s go and skate together.” I don’t think there is such a sense of security and trust that if they were allowed to the Olympic games, then everything would be fine and everything would be in accordance with the Olympic values. Time must pass, the war must end, everyone must take a breath and look at what happened and understand the situation, and only then can we start talking about it and discussing it at all. At the moment – no, I do not support.”


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8 Responses to “Deniss Vasiljevs: “I don’t support the admission of Russian athletes to the Olympics. Time must pass, the war must end, everyone must look at what happened and understand the situation, and only then can we start talking about it.””

  1. Lene says:

    Deniss speaking facts like usual. I don’t want to see Russian athletes anywhere near my screen and Ukrainians.

  2. Constance says:

    Personally, I would not invite Russian/Belarussian athletes to the Olympics at this point. The history of countries that had to (imo rightfully!) “sit out” Olympic games because of war, war crimes and crimes against humanity has enough precedent cases in it. Austria, Germany, Japan, Serbia, South Africa, Zimbabwe..I’d bet there were a few medal candidates among athletes from those countries that didn’t get their chance to win a medal.

    But even conceding the point that other countries had athletes in the Olympics while being engaged in wars, there is still a doping issue when it comes to Russia. Like it or not, in spite of being “on parole”, since and including 2014, in every. damn. Olympics. there was at least 1 positive doping test result from a Russian athlete. That alone should warrant an actual ban for at least one cycle, none of that “OAR” nonsense that is clearly not working.

  3. Veronica says:

    …and the world still blaming and weighing this most corrupted war from both sides, on innocent people.

  4. No war says:

    Russia is a dictatorship. People in this country are suppressed (some do realise, some do not). Western leaders have done their bit to make Russian leader stronger. Many Russian people have been taking the responsibility and they were beaten up, tortured, put in prison, killed and poisoned. Unfortunately, Western leaders did not care much about it and continued doing businesses with the Russian state. Do not tell me they did not know who mister Putin was. Please, do not put the responsibility on the young skaters now.

  5. Carolina says:

    Russian coaches and many skaters are not teenagers. Even attending pro-war rallies and shows that wave the Z symbol of aggression and murder, in a war that has obliterated Ukrainian skating, both ice rinks, any safety for training and even murdering Ukrainian skater Dmytro Sharpa. We are past the point where adult Russian citizens must take responsibility for the actions of their government, only the people of a country can make a change to the situation.

    Beyond that, Russia has been doping in a systematic government-sponsored fashion for decades and past approach to say ‘oh you can compete but just without flag’ has changed nothing and only made those who cheat more bold. Not all Russian athletes cheat and those children in this system may not even realize but government involvement and abuse of children means that it is not the time for IOC to be blind to reality

  6. No war says:

    Agree with Christine. I am against the war. But it’s not correct to place the responsibility for the war on some teenagers.

  7. Tomas says:

    Or maybe some people can have some values and principles? P. S. Deniss overcame 2 russian athletes in last year Europeans. Or you cannot take this seriously too?

  8. Christine says:

    Of course he doesn’t support it, he can finish higher if he doesn’t need to compete against three Russian skaters. I cannot take such opinions like his seriously.

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