Russia & China mulling ‘large-scale’ joint sporting bid – official
Russia and China are weighing up a joint bid for the Women’s World Handball Championship while significantly strengthening their cooperation in the sport, according to Russian official Sergey Shishkarev.
“We are thinking about submitting a joint bid to host the Women's Handball World Championship in 2029 or 2031,” Russian handball chief Shishkarev said on Monday at a meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Tao.
“Such a large-scale tournament has never been held in such large countries, it will be very interesting,” added Shishkarev, according to TASS.
The next edition of the biennial Women’s Handball World Championship is scheduled for Denmark, Norway and Sweden in 2023, while beyond that the event will head to Germany and the Netherlands in 2025 and Hungary in 2027.
China last hosted the showpiece in 2009 – when Russia won the title – while it was last held in Russia in 2005, when the hosts again won gold as part of three successive triumphs.
Chinese men’s and women’s handball teams have arrived in Russia for a training and a host of friendly matches as part of an agreement on strategic cooperation.
Russian Handball Federation president Shishkarev noted that the visit was the first significant event within the framework of Sino-Russian sporting cooperation signed off by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year.
Following a training camp, a tournament under the working title of ‘The Friendship and Peace Cup’ will be held later in April between Russia, China and Belarus, Shishkarev added.
The Russian handball chief added that along with China, they were considering setting up a Far Eastern League which could help develop the sport in the eastern part of Russia and China as a whole.
The cooperation comes at a time when Russia faces a host of sporting sanctions due to its military operation in Ukraine.
The International Handball Federation (IHF) announced on March 7 that it was banning “all teams, officials, referees, lecturers and experts” from the two countries from IHF events and activities “until further notice.”
Russian official Shishkarev confirmed on Monday that his organization had appealed that decision.
“I will say, as a lawyer, we have done exhaustive legal work, we consider our position correct. As part of the legal documents in the charter of the International Handball Federation there is a clause according to which there should be no discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnic origin, skin color, culture, religion, political beliefs, marital status, sexual orientation or other grounds,” Shishkarev said.
Those comments echo others from a range of Russian sporting officials and politicians, who have decried the bans placed on athletes as discriminatory and contradictory to the notion that politics should not undermine sporting integrity.