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20 Mar, 2024 03:33

Danish minister wants Russian gamers banned from major event

Organizers have been urged to remove the players from a Counter-Strike tournament in solidarity with Ukraine
Danish minister wants Russian gamers banned from major event

Russian esports athletes should be removed from a major Counter-Strike 2 competition currently being held in Copenhagen, Danish Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt has said.

Eighteen Russian gamers across five different teams are participating in the PGL CS2 Major Copenhagen2024 tournament, according to the Berlingske newspaper.  

“As long as Russia continues its illegal war of aggression in Ukraine, I do not believe that Russian athletes should be allowed to participate in international sports. This of course also applies to esports,” Engel-Schmidt told the outlet on Tuesday.

Organized by Romanian esports company PGL, the event will run until the end of the month, with the final scheduled to take place in Copenhagen’s Royal Arena. The total prize pool is a reported $1.25 million. 

“Even though the organizer is Romanian, I would still encourage them to exclude Russian participation,” the Danish culture minister said. “I would also strongly urge the Royal Arena to be more critical in terms of what they are hosting.” 

Among the participants is Team Spirit, which contains Russian and Ukrainian players. The team’s headquarters relocated from Moscow to the Serbian capital Belgrade after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia has been banned from multiple international sports events due to the Ukraine conflict, although in some cases athletes from the country are allowed to participate in an individual capacity, often as neutrals.  

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Tuesday that up to 55 ‘individual neutral athletes’ from Russia will be allowed to take part in this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. They will, however, be barred from the opening ceremony, the IOC said. 

Ukraine has backed the bans on Russians, arguing that Moscow uses its athletes and artists for propaganda purposes. Russian officials have condemned the restrictions as the “politicization” of sport. Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, described the actions of the IOC as “discriminatory.”