Ice Skater Denied Citizenship to Compete for Estonia at Olympics ({{commentsTotal}})

Aleksandr Zabojev
Aleksandr Zabojev Source: Photo: ERR

The Estonian-Russian ice skating pair of Natalja Zabijako and Aleksandr Zabojev will not take part in next year's Winter Olympics as Zabojev was denied Estonian citizenship, a requirement needed to compete for Estonia at the games.

Gunnar Kuura, the General Secretary of the Estonian Skating Union, told ERR radio today that they sent in an application to the government after the pair qualified for the games, but the answer was negative.

Kuura said the 24-year-old Zabojev will now take the long road towards citizenship, including learning the language.

The two continue to be eligible to compete at European and World Championships, where they have represented Estonia in the past.

Cash prizes for medal winners in question

Next year, the Estonian Olympic Committee will take over from the Ministry of Culture as the institution responsibie for paying the large bonuses to medal winners.

The main differences is that the ministry will allocate a certain figure, and if more medals are won, the EOC, with a much smaller budget than the ministry, could go bankrupt.

Head of the EOC, Neinar Seli, told Postimees today that the pot currently contains only enough for a bronze medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, and nothing for next year's Sochi games.

The current going rate for a gold medal is around 100,000 euros for the winner, while the coach receives around 50,000 euros. A bronze medal would earn an athlete around 45,000 euros.