DIn an interview, the former Russian star biathlete Olga Zaizewa advocated partial mobilization in her home country and declared her willingness to take an active part in the Ukraine war. “My first thought was: everyone should be called up,” the Olympic champion from Turin and Vancouver told the Russian newspaper “Izvestia”. “I’m willing to go myself because we can shoot after all. We owe it to our homeland.”
Zaitseva, who is herself a major in the reserve, nevertheless warned that professionally trained soldiers should be at the front first and foremost. In the event of a complete mobilization, however, one would also be ready as an athlete. Furthermore, Zaitseva sees the conquest of eastern Ukrainian areas as an opportunity for Russian winter sports: “The number of regions has increased, which means that the number of athletes in Russia has increased. They all belong to us now. And we will work with them, like we did with Crimea after 2014. The competition is increasing, and as a result, the athletes are also improving.”
The restriction to national events is not an obstacle to the development of the athletes. Russian and Belarusian biathletes are banned from all competitions by the World Federation IBU because of the Ukraine war.