Commonwealth Games: Visa status of M'sia gymnastics team's Russian coaches unclear

·2-min read
Malaysia's rhythmic gymnastics team competing at the SEA Games in Hanoi in May 2022.
Malaysia's rhythmic gymnastics team competing at the SEA Games in Hanoi in May 2022. (PHOTO: Ye Aung Thu/AFP via Getty Images)

Two Russian coaches from Malaysia's national rhythmic gymnastics squad have yet to receive their entry visas for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

According to a Free Malaysia Today report on Thursday (28 July), Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu told reporters at the Games that both coaches may be affected by entry restrictions imposed by the British government on Russian citizens following the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

While he did not name the coaches, New Straits Times reported the Russians as Yulia Ivanova and Lidia Legotina.

"We have appealed to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). We hope they can assist in getting their visas approved," Ahmad Faizal said.

"CGF informed us they are awaiting response from the UK government and Immigration Department."

New Straits Times reported that, should the Russian coaches' visa appeals be rejected, two Malaysian coaches - Afrita Nasril and Lim Wen Chean - will be flown in from Kuala Lumpur to replace them.

Malaysia have sent three rhythmic gymnasts - Koi Sie Yan, Ng Joe Ee and Izzah Amzan - to compete in the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games, which held its opening ceremony on Thursday.

Team manager Corinne Beh told New Straits Times that the visa issue was already raised while the trio were training in Minsk, Belarus, in preparation for the Games.

"We are prepared to participate if the two coaches are not able to join us. But we still hope they will be granted entry by the UK government," she said.

"We had discussed about the coaches' problem when we were training in Belarus. Mentally, our athletes are ready to compete without their coaches."

During the previous Games edition in Gold Coast, Australia, in 2018, Koi had clinched three silvers and one bronze for Malaysia.

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