Russia’s sports freeze worsens as Putin’s black belt is revoked


ALL SPORTS: Russia continued to pay a heavy sporting price for its invasion of Ukraine yesterday (March 1), frozen by a snowball list of sports, with perhaps the most painful blow being ice skating .

Separately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has had his honorary black belt in taekwondo revoked by the sport’s international governing body due to his decision to invade.

Russia, traditionally a powerhouse in the sport of skating in which it won six medals at the Beijing Olympics, including two golds, yesterday saw its skaters barred from all competitions.

This excludes them from the March World Championships which will be held in Montpellier, France.

It is another blow for a country which, under President Vladimir Putin, had used sport as a powerful force for its image, both globally and internally.

Under his presidency, they hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi – although this was overshadowed by the state-sponsored doping scandal – and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

On Monday, the governing bodies that oversee these sporting showpieces hit Russia hard.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged sports federations and organizers to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events.

Hours later, world football’s governing body FIFA expelled Russia from the 2022 World Cup as world football’s governing body and UEFA joined forces to expel national teams and players. Russian clubs in all international competitions.

Yesterday they lost the right to host the Men’s Volleyball World Championships – which the former Soviet Union has won twice – in August and September.

“The FIVB Board of Directors has come to the conclusion that it would be impossible to prepare and organize the World Championships in Russia due to the war in Ukraine,” the International Volleyball Federation said in a statement. .

“He has therefore decided to withdraw from Russia the organization of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship which was to be held in August and September 2022.”

Give birth to life’

This follows UEFA depriving Saint Petersburg of hosting the Champions League final – European football’s premier club competition – and Formula 1 canceling the Russian Grand Prix last Friday. .

The Ice Skating Union (ISU) said it had decided to ban skaters – this also includes short track skating and speed skating – after “carefully evaluating” the IOC’s statement on Monday.

“The ISU Council (…) has agreed that with immediate effect and until further notice, no skaters belonging to ISU members in Russia and Belarus will be invited or allowed to participate in competitions ice skating championships,” the organization said in a statement.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) followed suit with a blanket ban on athletes saying it had “strengthened its measures”. Just hours before it initially canceled BWF-sanctioned tournaments in Russia and Belarus.

Swimming was a rare bird to provide sanctuary to Russian and Ukrainian swimmers, as the governing body FINA failed to ban them.

“Russian or Belarusian nationals, whether as individuals or teams, should only be accepted as neutral athletes or neutral teams,” FINA said in a statement.

Tennis stars such as new men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev will be eagerly awaiting what the men’s ATP Tour and the women’s WTA Tour will decide.

Russia are also Davis Cup holders despite not being involved in this weekend’s play-offs – the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which organizes the tournament, has yet to comment.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has yet to issue an appeal to individual riders or teams – although Pavel Sivakov, who rides for Team Ineos, made his opposition to war clear last week.

Amid all the gloom for Ukrainian sports stars, there was good news for Ukraine international midfielder Yevhen Shakhov – who plays in Greece – whose wife gave birth to a baby girl in Kyiv.

“The real heroes of our time. Heroes are not those who fight, but those who give birth to life. I love you very much,” the 31-year-old AEK Athens star posted on Instagram.

Putin’s Honorary Black Belt revoked

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin had his honorary taekwondo black belt stripped by the sport’s international governing body yesterday, following his country’s invasion of Ukraine.

World Taekwondo, which governs the sport’s international federations, was the latest to condemn Putin, saying yesterday that Moscow’s actions went against the sport’s vision: “Peace is more precious than triumph”.

“In this regard, World Taekwondo has decided to withdraw the honorary 9and a black belt conferred on Mr. Vladimir Putin in November 2013,” the Seoul-based body said in an official statement.

He added that official taekwondo events would not be held in Russia or Belarus.

As per the IOC’s urging, the two countries’ flags and anthems will also not be displayed or played at taekwondo events around the world.

“World Taekwondo’s thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and we hope for a peaceful and immediate end to this war,” he said.

Putin doesn’t actually practice taekwondo, but rather judo, another martial art, and was longtime honorary president of the International Judo Federation.

On Sunday, the IJF suspended its status as honorary president and sports ambassador.

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