TOKYO — Six Polish swimmers were sent home from the Olympics this week after the country’s swimming federation arrived in Japan with too many competitors.
Poland originally selected 23 swimmers for the Tokyo Games but had to trim its list to 17 based on world swimming’s qualifying rules.
One of the swimmers, Alicja Tchorz, who competed at the 2012 and 2016 Games, expressed outrage at the fiasco and at the federation’s leadership in a Facebook post.
“Imagine dedicating 5 years of your life and striving for another start at the most important sporting event,” she wrote, “giving up your private life and work, sacrificing your family, etc.”
Her frustrations were amplified, she said, upon learning “6 days before the grand finale, it turns out that you were denied your dreams because of the incompetence of third parties.”
A video shared on social media by a Polish journalist showed the swimmers who had been ordered home sharing hugs and saying goodbye to other members of the Polish delegation before their departure on Sunday.
The other swimmers informed they could not compete were identified in news reports and social media posts as Bartosz Piszczorowicz, Aleksandra Polanska, Mateusz Chowaniec, Dominika Kossakowska and Jan Holub.
In a lengthy statement explaining the error, the president of Poland’s swimming federation, Pawel Slominski, expressed regret for the mistake but also attempted to assign some of the blame to swimming’s qualifying rules and to Poland’s Olympic committee.
“I express great regret, sadness and bitterness about the situation,” Slominski said in the statement. “Such a situation should not take place, and the reaction of the swimmers, their emotions, the attack on the Polish Swimming Federation is understandable to me and justified.”
On Instagram, Chowaniec railed against “the incompetent people” leading the swimming federation.
“I am deeply shocked by what happened and this is an absurd situation for me that should never have happened,” he wrote. “In fact, I hope to wake up from this NIGHTMARE eventually!”