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2021.10.01 13:12

Lithuanian ice dancers may forgo Olympics after president rejects citizenship application

Rokas Suslavičius, LRT.lt2021.10.01 13:12

Lithuania's ice dancing pair of Saulius Ambrulevičius and Allison Reed may not be able to represent the country at Beijing Winter Olympics next year after the president rejected Reed's citizenship application.

Ambrulevičius and Reed, who is a US national, represented Lithuania in this year's World Ice Skating Championship and finished 15th, securing a ticket to the Olympic Games.

In order to be able to go to Beijing in February, Reed applied for the Lithuanian citizenship, but the President's Office has informed LRT.lt that the application was rejected.

“There is no evidence to unequivocally support the person's exceptional merit to the Republic of Lithuania,” the office said in a comment.

Besides standard naturalisation process, the president of Lithuania can grant citizenship to foreigners for special merits to the country.

In 2013, the then president Dalia Grybauskaitė granted Lithuania's citizenship to American ice dancer Izabella Tobias so she could compete in 2014 Sochi Olympics with her Lithuanian partner Deividas Stagniūnas. However, Grybauskaitė had rejected Tobias' citizenship application earlier that year.

According to the President's Office, Reed was informed about the rejection back in June.

The Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LTOK) told LRT.lt that it was aware of the rejection, but that the country's Ice Skating Federation and Reed still hoped that the pair would be able to compete in Beijing.

According to the Federation, Ambrulevičius, 29, and Reed, 27, continue to train for upcoming competitions and will resubmit the citizenship application in November.

“We regret this decision that has surprised us. Reed is sincerely trying to integrate into Lithuanian life, she has has a permanent residency permit. Especially as the pair has already won an Olympic ticket for Lithuania,” said Ice Skating Federation president Lilija Vanagienė. “But they continue to work and train and do not give up.”

As a backup plan, the Federation is training another ice dancer pair, Paulina Ramanauskaitė and Deividas Kizala, to take Ambrulevičius and Reed's place in the Olympics that will start on February 4.

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