Warsaw, Poland – Six Polish swimmers who traveled to Tokyo hoping to take part in this year’s Olympics were sent home due to an administrative error resulting in Poland having too many competitors.
“I express great regret, sadness and bitterness about the situation related to the qualification of our swimmers for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Pawel Slominski, the head of Poland’s swimming federation (PZP), said in a 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,” he added.
Poland had mistakenly sent 23 swimmers to represent the country in Japan, although the world governing body FINA’s regulations only allow a maximum of 17.
Alicja Tchorz, one of the athletes affected by the administrative blunder, expressed her frustration on Facebook: “Imagine dedicating give 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… your dedication results in a total flop.”
Mateusz Chowaniec, another Polish swimmer forced to pack his bags early, said he was “deeply shocked” by this “absurd situation” and hoped “to wake up from this nightmare eventually”.
The six unfortunate swimmers have already returned to Poland.
Board members of Poland’s swimming federation are facing calls to resign over the bizarre error, with some of the athletes reportedly considering taking legal action.
Polish Sports Minister Piotr Glinski has also demanded clarification from the federation to know how such a blunder could have occurred.