Poland’s state-owned airline LOT has denied boarding Russian tennis player Vitalia Dyachenko in accordance with sanctions introduced after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the carrier said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday without naming her.
Dyachenko was refused to board a much larger flight departing from Cairo on Monday as she was traveling to Calvi in Corsica via Warsaw and Nice to play in a tournament.
The airline confirmed to CNN that it “could not accept a citizen of the Russian Federation on its flight,” citing restrictions introduced by Poland’s Interior Ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic and after the March 2020 invasion of Ukraine. Updated in
“The provisions of the regulation impose restrictions on certain border crossings, including airport crossings, in respect of citizens of the Russian Federation traveling from outside the Schengen area,” the airline said.
Dyachenko told CNN on Wednesday that she was unable to reach her destination after being denied a flight because of her Russian passport and is now back in Moscow.
According to Reuters, the 32-year-old also said she attempted to buy a ticket from German airline Lufthansa but was advised she could only enter the Schengen area through Spain which had issued her a visa. CNN was not able to independently verify this.
Tennis has been one of the most prominent sports that has continued to welcome Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions in February 2022, despite an initial recommendation by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board.
But in January 2023, the IOC outlined a multi-phased plan for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the upcoming 2024 Summer Games in Paris and the 2026 Winter Games in Milan, which was followed by the United States, Canada and several European met with criticism. Countries including the United Kingdom, Germany and Poland.
According to the IOC’s latest recommendations, released in March, athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports should only compete as individual neutral athletes, meeting all anti-doping requirements, while those who support a war or military or national security agencies are contracted to, they cannot compete.
IOC President Thomas Bach defended the latest recommendations, citing the example of tennis that shows the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes “works” despite the war.
Bach described some European governments as “outrageous” for their “negative reactions” to the organization’s stance on Russia.