GENEVA (AP) — More and more sports are heeding the International Olympic Committee’s call to ban Russian athletes from competing in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia was banned from participating in international competitions in ice skating, skiing, basketball and athletics on Tuesday, a day after being expelled from competitions in football and hockey – the team sport favorite of Vladimir Putin. The decisions follow the IOC’s request to international sports federations to exclude Russian athletes from the events they organise.
The International Skating Union, the body that governs the sport globally, said no athletes from Russia or Belarus “will be invited or permitted to participate” in any events until further notice.
Belarus has been a key Russian ally in its attack on Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia was crippling Ukrainian infrastructure and hitting schools and hospitals. (Source: UNTV/CNN)
The World Figure Skating Championships are scheduled for later this month in Montpellier, France. The ISU decision means Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova and her 15-year-old teammate Kamila Valieva, who was at the center of an as yet unresolved doping dispute at last month’s Winter Olympics, will be barred from competition.
The sports restrictions have drawn heavy criticism from Russia.
“Our country has always adhered to the principle that sport is beyond politics, but we are constantly drawn into politics, because they understand the importance of sport in the life of our Russian people,” said the vice -Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, who was removed from office. an honor from the IOC for organizing the 2014 Sochi Olympics, said Tuesday at a meeting of the Ministry of Sports.
In Norway, Russian cross-country skiers – who won 11 medals at the Beijing Olympics – were returning home after being barred from competition by the International Ski Federation, known as FIS.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging a ceasefire to show Russia’s seriousness in negotiations. (Source: CNN)
The decision came after a three-day standoff with Norwegian ski officials, who said they would refuse to let Russians and Belarusians race even if the governing body maintained its previous policy of allowing them to compete as than neutral athletes.
“First of all, I’m happy that FIS has made this decision,” said Norwegian Ski Federation president Erik Røste, who also sits on the governing body’s board. “So I have to be honest and say it took too long.”
The position of the FIS changed on Tuesday morning after its president, Johan Eliasch, took part in a conference call organized by the IOC with the governing bodies of Olympic sports.
In athletics, Russia has been suspended since 2015 for a doping violation but allowed to compete as “authorized neutral athletes”. On Tuesday, the sport moved to a blanket ban from Russia and Belarus.
The track’s governing body is led by Sebastian Coe. As an athlete, Coe defied calls for a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and won a gold medal in the 1,500 meters.
“I have denounced the practice of politicians targeting athletes and sport to make political arguments while other sectors continue their activities,” Coe said. “It is different because governments, companies and other international organizations have imposed sanctions and measures against Russia in all sectors. Sport must step up and join these efforts to end this war and restore We cannot and must not let this one pass.
Russia has also been suspended by the International Basketball Federation. This will affect Russia’s bid to qualify for next year’s Men’s World Cup. Russia had already canceled a qualifying game against the Netherlands last week. The Russian women’s team qualified for a World Cup spot in September.
The International Volleyball Federation said it had stripped Russia of hosting the men’s world championships in August and September and would seek another host country or countries.
“It would be impossible to prepare and organize the World Championships in Russia because of the war in Ukraine,” the FIVB board said.
Volleyball has also suspended Russian teams and clubs from international events, while rowing and badminton have decided to exclude Russian athletes from their competitions.
The sport of swimming, however, has so far chosen to ignore the IOC’s recommendation to ban Russians. The sport’s governing body, known as FINA, said on Tuesday it would allow swimmers from Russia and Belarus to participate “as neutrals, competing under the FINA flag and with the FINA anthem. “.
The FINA website still says Russia will host the World Short Course Championships in December.
The swimming body, however, said it had withdrawn a federation honor awarded to Putin in 2014.
Russian athletes have already arrived in China for the Paralympic Winter Games, which open on Friday. They are expected to compete as the RPC, short for Russian Paralympic Committee, after the IOC offered a possible exemption for events starting at short notice. The Ukrainian team is not yet in Beijing, but organizers said they expect the country’s athletes to arrive in time.
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it does not want the Russian team to compete in Beijing.
“As the world watches in horror as Russia brazenly attacks the innocent Ukrainian people and athletes, this is the only acceptable action to be taken until peace is restored,” the USOPC said in a statement.
The governing bodies of three Olympic sports – fencing, shooting and boxing – are headed by Russians. None have yet banned the country’s athletes from competing.
The billionaire president of the International Fencing Federation, Alisher Usmanov, said on Tuesday he would ‘suspend my duties…until justice is restored’ after being sanctioned by the European Union . The shots allowed the Russians and Belarusians to continue competing at an ongoing World Cup in Egypt, while boxing said it would discuss the matter ‘later this week’ at a meeting of the board of directors.
The invasion also led some sponsors and companies to cut ties. Adidas, the maker of Russian national soccer team shirts, said it was suspending its partnership with the federation with immediate effect.
Ellingworth reported from Düsseldorf, Germany.
Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and AP Sports writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this report.
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