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7 Mar, 2022 11:26

Judo chiefs axe Putin roles

The International Judo Federation has taken action on the Russian President
Judo chiefs axe Putin roles

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been removed from all the positions he held at the International Judo Federation (IJF) amid his country's military operation in Ukraine, the martial arts organization has confirmed.

Russian billionaire Rotenberg,who had been on the IJF's Executive Committee as a development manager since 2013, has also lost his role with the governing body.

The IJF last week suspended Putin from his role as their Honorary President and Ambassador, which he had held since 2008.

Judo has been a lifelong passion of Putin's since his youth in St. Petersburg, where he was a regional champion according to IJF's website.

In the same year he was made the body's Honorary President, Putin produced an instructional DVD, 'Let's Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin'.

Putin has also created a book on the sport that was distributed to millions of Russian children.

Over the past decade, Putin has regularly attended major judo events such as the 2018 World Championships in Baku.

The Russian head of state was seen watching judo with then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the London 2012 Olympic Games before embracing Tagir Khaibulaev when the judoka clinched the gold medal. 

The IJF previously canceled this year's Grand Slam, which was scheduled to take place in Kazan in May.

IJF President Marius L Vizer said his organization was "saddened by the current international situation", which it claimed was the result "of inefficient dialogue at international level".

"We, the sports community, must remain united and strong, to support each other and our universal values, in order to always promote peace and friendship, harmony and unity," Vizer added.

"The judo family hopes that the current unrest can be solved in the last moment, to re-establish normality and stability in Eastern Europe and the world, to once again be able to focus on the diverse cultures, history and legacy of Europe in the most positive way."

The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) had already relieved Putin of the honorary black belt he received from its President, Choue Chung-won, during a 2013 visit to South Korea, where the martial art originated, as well as his grandmaster title.

In a statement, the WTF strongly condemned military operation in Ukraine, adding that it went against its motto of 'Peace is More Precious than Triumph' and contradicted its "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 said.

The WTF will not allow Russian or Belarusian flags or anthems to be displayed or played at its events following International Olympic Committee advice.

Neither country will be recognized by the WTF or the European Taekwondo Union.

"World Taekwondo’s thoughts are with the people of Ukraine," it said, adding that it hoped for a "peaceful and immediate end" to the operation.