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14 Apr, 2023 07:29

Ukraine bans sports teams from facing Russians

Federations violating the rules might lose their national status and state funding, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has warned
Ukraine bans sports teams from facing Russians

Ukrainian national teams have been forbidden from taking part in international events featuring athletes from Russia and Belarus, according to a decree by Ukraine’s Ministry of Youth and Sport.

The decision, published on the ministry’s website on Wednesday, covers all Ukrainian teams in Olympic, non-Olympic and Paralympic disciplines.

“Prohibit the official delegations of the national teams of Ukraine... from participating in international sports competitions, in which athletes from Russia and/or Belarus take part,” the decree says.

The decree also requires national federations to “monitor the possible involvement of athletes from Russia and/or Belarus in international sports competitions.”

Sports federations found to be violating the ban could be deprived of their national status, the document reads. The loss of such status would result in the federation being cut off from state funding.

Last month, the International Olympic Committee drew up a set of recommendations for international sports federations regarding athletes from Russia and Belarus, who were banned from competitions shortly after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict last February.

According to the Olympic bosses, Russians and Belarusians should be allowed to take part in tournaments abroad under a neutral flag, provided they have no links to the armed forces and have not expressed support for Moscow’s military operation.

In late March, Ukraine barred its athletes from qualifying events for the 2024 Olympics in Paris that feature Russians and Belarusians. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has also called on countries to boycott the Games altogether.

International federations in such sports as fencing, taekwondo, wrestling, skateboarding and table tennis are among those which recently decided to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competitions. However, many other organizations have said they will not follow the IOC’s guidelines.

Russia has expressed its dissatisfaction with the recommendations from the Olympic chiefs, calling them “unreasonable, legally void and excessive.” Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov has said that the requirement to compete under a neutral flag amounted to a “human rights abuse” and a breach of Olympic principles and the UN charter.