Uzbekistan ice dancers win over bureaucracy

Anna Nagornyuk and Viktor Kovalenko

By Vladislav Luchianov

The 2012 World Figure Skating Championships in Nice started today with preliminary rounds in pairs and ice dancers. Anna Nagornyuk and Viktor Kovalenko of Uzbekistan could miss this championships. No, not because they are weaker than other skaters or because they didn’t want to come there. They could stay out of the championships because of bureaucrats, which could not do their job – give athletes visas on time.

It seems unthinkable. How can someone hold the official document of registered athletes for entering the country, in which will be held the main world event of the year of their kind of sports?! What are the reasons? Any explanations? No, nothing came from the French Embassy about this issue. Unfortunately with some bureaucrats everything is possible.

Anna and Viktor received their visas only today morning, on the day of their performance in the qualifying round. We can only guess how many nerves were wasted by these skaters. While most of the ice dancers arrived to Nice at the end of last week, the Uzbekistan skaters had to literally run to the airport. But it wasn’t the end of their adventures.

It soon turned out that their transit flight from Munich to Nice arrives late and they probably will miss the time of their dance. Fortunately, today the bureaucrats were not destined to win. In the last minutes Nagornyuk and Kovalenko came to the ice arena, right to their assigned warm-up group. In spite of the hardest day, athletes have shown really strong character. Anna and Viktor performed their free dance clean, passionate and with a great desire, earning the season’s best result of 70.88 points and taking the ninth place. They qualified to the main competitions and were given a standing ovation by its supporters and the audience.

In my opinion, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov have to ask the explanations from the French Ambassador, as his officers are not doing their job properly. The delay in the issuance of visas to these athletes is a direct violation of human rights. They represent their country and its flag on the international scene and they deserve much more respect.

Photo by Robin Ritoss

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