Russian volleyball team denies Covid claimed life of budding 21-year-old women’s star
Russian sport has been mourning the loss of 21-year-old volleyball player Aliya Khambikova, whose death was confirmed by her team on Monday. Officials rejected suggestions that coronavirus may have been the cause.
Khambikova was a middle blocker for Russian second-division team Ufimochka-UGNTU from the city of Ufa, which lies around 1,165km east of Moscow.
Her team confirmed the tragic news on Monday that she had died, sharing an image on social media of Khambikova and writing: “It great tragedy has occurred.
“Aliya Khambikova has passed away. We express our condolences to family and friends.
“She was 21 years old. She died suddenly due to illness.”
Khambikova, who had been playing for the team since 2019, last appeared for Ufimochka in early October.
Her passing just over one month later appears to have led to unfounded claims that Covid-19 was the cause.
However, the head of the team’s press service, Denis Taipov, dismissed that notion in comments to Sport-Express.
“It’s a big shock for us, a very big loss. Aliya was a wonderful person, cheerful,” Taipov said as he paid tribute.
“She got on well with everyone in the team. It’s difficult to describe in words what happened.”
When asked why the club had not stated the cause of death, Taipov said: “We thought that it would not be entirely correct for the club to name the reason.
“If relatives or loved ones want to state it, they will. This is a personal matter.
"I saw a lot of comments about coronavirus. It wasn’t Covid. In the last month, [Aliya] was diagnosed with a widespread, serious illness.
“We decided not to state it. Aliya missed the last round [of matches], she was in the hospital.”
“Unfortunately, it was the worst-case scenario. Once again we express our condolences, this is a great loss."
Some unconfirmed reports in Russia have stated that Khambikova had been diagnosed with leukemia.
Her passing was met with widespread sadness as many fans took to social media to send their condolences to Khambikova's family, friends, and teammates.Also on rt.com ‘Deep sorrow’: Grief as 24yo former goal of the season-winning hockey player dies 11 days after collapse on ice