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3 Aug, 2022 15:02

Russian club banned from Asian hockey league

PSK Sakhalin said their removal was down to 'political' reasons
Russian club banned from Asian hockey league

Russian team PSK Sakhalin have announced that they have been banned from the 2022/23 season of Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH) after a decision was taken by rival clubs based on “political” reasons. 

Sakhalin shared the news on their social media accounts, saying that they had been informed of the step after a videoconference on Tuesday. 

“Following the meeting, the leadership of the league, in agreement with the teams, decided to remove Russian athletes from participation in the tournament of the 2022-2023 season with the wording ‘due to the political situation,’” read a message from the team. 

Based in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on the island of Sakhalin in the Russian far east, the team was founded in 2013 with the encouragement of Russian president and noted hockey enthusiast Vladimir Putin. 

Sakhalin won the ALIH title in the 2018/19 season, and shared the top prize in a Covid-affected campaign in the following year. 

The ALIH was set up in 2003 and is made up of teams from South Korea and Japan, having previously featured organizations from China as well.

The official league website had not made mention of the sanctions against Sakhalin at the time of writing. 

Russian athletes and teams have faced widespread bans since the launch of the military operation in Ukraine. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended to all sports federations that they decline to invite Russian and Belarusian athletes to competitions – a stance which IOC president Thomas Bach later claimed was partly for the safety of competitors from the two nations. 

Russian officials have decried the bans as discriminatory and undermining the principle of sport being free from political interference.  

Some countries such as Sweden, Finland and Latvia have said any of their players who continue to appear for Russian hockey teams in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) will no longer be considered for national team selection.