Prominent Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova has talked about her preparations for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, saying the sex ban imposed by the organizers doesn’t trouble her as she stays focused on the rescheduled showpiece.
The 28-year-old, who has six world titles to her name but is yet to win Olympic gold, admitted that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused many problems and inconveniences for professional athletes.
But Efimova is ready to put up with any restrictions for the sake of the Olympics, where she will chase breaststroke glory.
“It’s a pity we will not be allowed to go out, but it’s better to hold the Olympics like that [observing all the rules], than not to have it at all,” Efimova told Sport24.
“Wait, did you say a sex ban? As with many athletes, I would be bothered with other things at the Olympics.”
Efimova hasn’t visited her home country for almost 18 months due to the pandemic, and is preparing to take part in the national selection process for the Olympic squad.
Having gone through multiple scandals before the 2016 Games in Rio, where she faced the threat of being banned from the event for previous doping violations, she said she is unafraid of anything during preparations for the Tokyo Games.
In 2016, Efimova risked missing the Olympic Games after the International Swimming Federation ruled that athletes with unclean doping records wouldn’t be allowed to participate.
The swimmer overturned the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was approved for the competition just days before the swimming contest.
The stunning blonde, who is one of the most popular athletes in Russia, says she sometimes faces hate online after posting bikini photos which some followers found too revealing.
“Yes, sometimes I deal with it [online hate],” she said. “Especially if I post bikini photos. Though I’m a swimmer, I think I can share pictures in swimsuits. If someone writes something unpleasant, I simply block them.”
Efimova would take a Covid-19 vaccination “if necessary” ahead of the competition.
“I still do not know how they will conduct the Games,” she said. “Imagine you prepare and before the competition you are vaccinated, and you get sick.
“Or you have a positive test when you are already in Tokyo. That would be very disappointing.”
Asked for her wider views on feminism and life, Efimova said: “I’m not against feminism. From a young age I tried to achieve everything myself.
“I never thought: I’ll find myself a man to do everything for me. But the older I get, I still understand that I want to have some kind of support. At the same time, I am perfectly able to do everything myself.
“It seems to me that you need to build on your goals and desires. You can always learn to manage your life on your own.
“Girls can choose what they want: to be feminine, start a family, be mothers, achieve everything on their own, build a career and provide for themselves without anyone’s support.
“It’s all great. You just need to make a choice based on your desires.”