Olympics chiefs open synchronized swimming to men


Males will be able to compete in the sport at the Olympics for the first time at Paris 2024

Male competitors will be able to take part in synchronized swimming, now known as artistic swimming, for the first time in Olympic history at the Paris 2024 Games following a fresh ruling.

The sport is usually performed by teams of eight, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided that up to two men can be on each team moving forward.

While men have been able to feature in artistic swimming since 2015 at the World Championships, it has been a women-only sport at the Olympics since being introduced for the 1984 Los Angeles games.

Among those to welcome the decision was Italian swimmer Giorgio Minisini, who won two world mixed duet gold medals with Lucrezia Ruggiero in June this year.

“Our sport’s evolution towards inclusivity is going on fast forward,” Minisini said. “This decision from the IOC and World Aquatics will help us become an example for the whole Olympic movement.”

The world’s first-ever male world champion in the inaugural mixed technical event at the World Championships, American Bill May, praised the move too.

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“The inclusion of men was once considered the impossible dream,” May said. “This proves that we should all dream big. The male athletes have endured.

“Now, through their perseverance and the help and support of so many, all athletes may stand alongside each other equally, reaching for Olympic glory.”

Not everyone has been convinced, however, with former world champion Varvara Subbotina of Russia saying that the aesthetics of male legs means the sport is better suited to females only.

“For me, synchronized swimming is only a female sport. Full stop. I have always said so and will continue to say so,” the 21-year-old stressed in an interview with Sport-Express. “Previously, there were strange prohibitions [in some sports] for women, I agree.

“Why can’t girls be allowed to do ski jumping? If they train, if they prepare. This is probably excessive conservatism, here I cannot fully understand the desire for ‘security’,” she added.

“But if we return to synchronized swimming, it is much more aesthetic to see how women’s legs come out of the water, and not men’s. At least because of this, it is worth leaving our sport exclusively for women.”

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