Oops, Poland Had to Send 6 Olympic Swimmers Home after Picking Too Many
Poland initially picked 23 athletes to compete, but only 17 are allowed on each country's swim team.
Every athlete dreams of going to the Olympics, but only the best of the best make it. Even then, there are rules about how many of a country's most elite athletes can attend and compete in the Games. Just ask Polish Swimming Federation (PZP) president Pawel Slominski, who learned that lesson the hard way.
Poland, which initially picked 23 athletes to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, had to send home six swimmers after accidentally selecting too many, according to the BBC. FINA, the international federation for water sports, has qualifying rules that state that 17 is the maximum number of swimmers each country is allowed.
The president of the Polish Swimming Federation (PZP), Pawel Slominski, apologized publicly, noting that he understood why the would-be Olympians and their fans were bummed. He chalked his mistake up to eagerness, saying in a statement, per the BBC, that it was made due to a "desire to allow as many players and coaches as possible to take part in the Games."
"I express great regret, sadness, and bitterness about the situation," he said in the statement. "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."
The swimmers who were sent home were not thrilled and made no secret of that. Alicja Tchorz, a two-time Olympian, vented about the situation on Facebook.
"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 and your dedications, results in a total flop," Tchorz wrote.
Mateusz Chowaniec shared a similar sentiment on Instagram, calling the situation a "nightmare."
"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," his post read.
Several members of the team have banded together to draft an open letter in which they called for the board to resign as a result of the incident. It's unclear what action, if any, will be taken, but one thing is for sure: Poland won't be making this mistake again. At least, we hope not.
Those six swimmers Poland sent home may not be the only athletes missing out on their Olympic dreams this year, however. Toshiro Muto, chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, has said he's watching COVID numbers carefully, adding that the Games could be cancelled last-minute as infection rates rise in Japan. Several athletes staying in the Olympic Village have already tested positive for the virus.