Putin stripped of honorary taekwondo black belt
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been stripped of his honorary taekwondo black belt by the World Taekwondo Federation.
Putin was awarded the prestigious item by the federation's chief, Choue Chung-won, and was also made a grandmaster of the martial art during a November 2013 visit to South Korea, where taekwondo originated.
The World Taekwondo Federation announced the decision in a statement and said that it strongly condemned Russia's military operation in Ukraine, which it said goes "against the World Taekwondo vision of 'Peace is More Precious than Triumph' and the World Taekwondo values of respect and tolerance".
"In this regard, World Taekwondo has decided to withdraw the honorary 9th dan black belt conferred to Mr. Vladimir Putin in November 2013," it continued.
"In solidarity with the International Olympic Committee, no Russian or Belarusian national flags or anthems will be displayed or played at World Taekwondo events," the statement added, while announcing that neither itself nor the European Taekwondo Union will organize or recognize taekwondo events in the two countries moving forward.
"World Taekwondo’s thoughts are with the people of Ukraine," the federation concluded, saying that it hoped for a "peaceful and immediate end" to the conflict.
The World Taekwondo Federation's decision to strip Putin of the honorary black belt is a second personal sporting snub for the leader in recent days.
On Sunday, The International Judo Federation (IJF) suspended Putin from his role as its Honorary President and Ambassador, a position which he had held since 2008.
A black belt in that sport too, Putin was a regional champion in his hometown St. Petersburg as a youth, the IJF website says, and also made an instructional DVD named 'Let's Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin' in addition to a book on the discipline distributed to millions of schoolchildren.
The IJF has also canceled this year's Grand Slam scheduled for Kazan in May, but Putin has not yet responded to these measures or those from the World Taekwondo Federation.
Elsewhere on Monday, global and European football bodies FIFA and UEFA banned all Russian teams from international competitions, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has similarly made calls for all athletes from Russia and Belarus to be prevented from participating at international events.