Roman Khrennikov is the first athlete who has been confirmed to receive a region exemption for the 2024 CrossFit Games season. Khrennikov, who is a citizen of Russia, received an exemption to compete out of the North America East region again this year.
The region exemption was confirmed by Khrennikov’s coach, Facundo Etchecolatz, at Mayhem. While Facundo said he was not involved the exemption application process, he was able to say that Roman will be staying in the United States throughout the season and will be competing out of the North America East Semifinal.
Khrennikov’s exemption comes just two weeks after the 2024 CrossFit Games rulebook was published. As outlined in Section 1.08 of the rulebook, athletes are to compete in the region based on one’s citizenship (and residency for citizens of the United States and Canada).
For those wanting to compete to out of a different region from their citizenship, athletes have the ability to submit a petition for exemption pursuant to Section 1.09 of the rulebook. Here, the rulebook outlines the minimum requirements for an exemption. The three requirements include:
- Proof of sustained residency in a single country outside of the athlete’s country of citizenship beginning on or before Feb. 1, 2021 (three
- Political hardship restricting travel to their expected Semifinals; OR
- Restrictions from attending their expected Semifinals due to immigration or visa status.
Requests for an exemption must be submitted to the CrossFit Games team by February 1, 2024.
In looking at Khrennikov’s situation, however, it is unclear which of the three bullet points applies to the current 3rd Fittest Man on Earth.
Khrennikov received a visa in February 2022. This visa allowed him to enter the United States and to travel for any competition in the country for the next five years, something he had been unable to do since the first time he qualified for the CrossFit Games in 2018.
While he was living in the United States throughout the 2022 Open and Quarterfinals, there wasn’t a region exemption in place and Khrennikov had to compete out of the Asia Semifinal to qualify for the 2022 CrossFit Games.
Then, in 2023, Khrennikov received a region exemption to compete out of the North America East Semifinal. Many anticipated Khrennikov would receive the exemption given his previous difficulties of traveling to the United States in combination with the Russia-Ukraine conflict that was flaring up at the time.
Now, fast forward to today. The reasoning for Khrennikov’s exemption is unclear. Khrennikov has only lived in the United States since February 2022, one year short of the three year requirement.
When looking at the other two bullet points for an exemption, both are related to difficulties in travel to their Semifinal – whether due to political hardship or immigation/visa status.
Last year, travel restrictions given what was happening in the Russia-Ukraine made sense. This year, however, Khrennikov was in Seoul, South Korea, in early December for a two-day workshop hosted by the Far East Throwdown.
So based on the language within the rulebook it is unclear the criteria the CrossFit Games team used to approve Khrennikov’s request. Khrennikov has not lived the United States for three years and traveling to South Korea, where the Asia Semifinal will be held, is not an issue.
A request for comment to CrossFit was not immediately returned.
But regardless of the reason, Khrennikov will be in Knoxville, Tennessee, this May for the North America East Semifinal.