Italian athletes, including several swimmers currently competing at the 2021 European Championships, are protesting the country’s decision to not reopen pools until July 1, 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the movement, a majority of Italy’s top swimmers have spoken out against the pool closures at the 2021 European Championships by wearing masks displaying the hashtag and posting to social media. Following her 800 freestyle victory, Italian Simona Quadarella wore a white bandana across her arm on the podium, signifying the protests.
Back in October 2020, the Italian government closed all indoor swimming pools and gyms amid concerns surrounding a second surge of the virus. However, in more recent months, coronavirus case numbers within the country have fallen dramatically, with only 3,452 cases reported on May 17. This is down from a high of 41,195 daily cases reported on November 13, 2020.
As a result of declining case numbers, the Italian government announced its “return to normalcy” plan, which will begin the week of May 22. Despite the fact that indoor gyms will be allowed to reopen beginning on May 24, indoor pools will not be permitted to open until July 1 at the earliest.
The government’s decision is raising protests within the Italian swimming community, including a movement, titled the #salviamilepiscine initiative, that is currently being led by the Italian Swimming Federation.
Italian distance star Gregorio Paltrinieri commented on the situation following his victory in the 25km open water event, “All of us champions started from very small realities and then got to these levels. If I had been deprived of the pool as a child, I would have gone crazy.I also give an important social value to what I do. For two seasons now, children have been denied something important. Learning to swim can be worth a life. I dedicate this medal to them.”
Olympic gold medalist Federica Pellegrini also offered her input on the protests, “Our world is suffering. The newest generation and the entire “amateur” sector have been at a standstill for almost a year and obviously the centers are suffering as a result. We all started from our small town pool. And this must continue to exist to preserve the new generation of swimmers.”