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28 Feb, 2020 17:53

Coronavirus grounds Russian gymnasts as team bosses rule out Milwaukee and Tokyo World Cup events

Coronavirus grounds Russian gymnasts as team bosses rule out Milwaukee and Tokyo World Cup events

The Russian national gymnastics team has been dealt a blow after team bosses decided not to risk making the trip to Milwaukee, USA for a World Cup event due to coronavirus fears.

The team will not be a part of the American Cup event in Wisconsin next weekend, and will also miss the World Cup event in Tokyo on April 4/5.

It means the men's and women's teams are unlikely to secure an extra place in the Tokyo Olympic games.

"Imagine, if someone sneezes on the plane, we will be left [in quarantine] for two weeks," said head coach Andrei Rodionenko.

"Russia is doing the right thing, protecting its citizens. And we must protect our gymnasts."

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Senior national team coach Valentina Rodionenko explained that the long journey from Russia to the United States was a big factor in the decision to withdraw from the American Cup, with world champion Nikita Nagornyy and fellow star Lilia Akhaimova requiring a multi-stop trip to reach the tournament, which begins on March 7.

"If even one person will be suspected (of carrying coronavirus), all the passengers will be quarantined, and that’s two weeks minimum," said Rodionenko

"Imagine what it means for a gymnast to be quarantined for two weeks, while the European Championships are around the corner."

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The American Cup is the first of four World Cup events, with the Tokyo stop being the fourth, with the three nations finishing in the Top 3 in the standings at the end of the four-stop competition each earning an additional place at the 2020 Olympics.

By ruling themselves out of two of the four events, it makes it highly unlikely that Russia will be unable to win an additional place for Tokyo.

However, an additional place is up for grabs at the European Championships, which take place in Paris (women) and Baku (men) in early and late May respectively.

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