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Greece Denies Athlete Permission to Compete Under Portugal Flag

Athlete Vasileia Karachaliou
Greece Denies Athlete Vasileia Karachaliou Permission to Compete Under Portugal Flag. Credit: World Sailing / Twitter

The Greek Olympic Committee (HOC) has refused to allow the Greek laser radial sailor Vasileia Karachaliou the right to compete under the Portuguese flag, the group announced on Wednesday

In a press statement, the Committee said, “The (HOC) does not approve the participation of the athlete Vasileia Karachaliou—or any other Greek athlete for that matter—to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics under the flag of another nation.”

Karachaliou, a former European champion and a world-class ILCA sailor, has been at odds with the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the national sailing federation for years.

“Whatever differences there are that can be solved through discussions are no reason for a change in nationality,” it said, adding that the decision to refuse her permission had been unanimous.

According to Greek federation rules, athletes can change their nationalities three years after their last representative country. For the change to go forward, it has to be approved by the federation and the national Olympic committee.​​​​​​​

Vasileia Karachaliou criticizes Greek government for lack of support

Vasileia Karachaliou
Sailing athlete Vasileia Karachaliou left Greece for Portugal because of the lack of support. Credit: World Sailing / Facebook

Vaseleia Karachaliou is a former European champion who took part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the Laser Radial Class discipline for Greece. She placed ninth. She has complained for years about the lack of support and funding from the country’s sailing federation. The lack of support does not allow her to adequately compete internationally.

Consequently, in January 2022, Karachaliou decided to immigrate to Portugal and change national colors. The lack of support from the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the Hellenic Sailing Federation was the primary reason. She now competes in the colors of Portugal.

She has previously said of her departure from Greece, “I feel a huge sense of relief, as if someone has relieved me of an unliftable weight that I have been carrying on a permanent basis. I fought to stay but I don’t regret for a minute that I left, I was redeemed, mentally and psychologically.”

Prior to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 26-year-old created a crow-funding page to cover expenses for the Olympics. In October, the sailing champion registered and competed under the Portuguese flag at the world championship in the US state of Texas. The championship took place from October 9th to October 16th. Karachaliou finished eighty-third out of eighty-five racers.

Athlete predicted to win gold at 2024 Paris Olympics

The sailing athlete placed third in the European championships a few months ago. Furthermore, she placed third in the world premiere of the new Olympic categories a few days ago in Spain. She is consistently in the top five of the world rankings. Her name is already in all the experts’ predictions for a gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in the category ILCA6 (ex-radial).

Speaking of the predictions, she stressed that “there is no pressure, only joy! You reap what you sow. And this applies to all levels of sports, from the last athlete to the minister.”

Among all her medals, she has won a gold at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Series Round 1 – Miami and a bronze medal at the 2017 Laser & Laser Radial European Championships Barcelona.

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