Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from participating in yet another international sports event as a result of their countries’ war effort in Ukraine.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) announced Wednesday that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be barred from participating in the 2022 World Judo Championships next month in Uzbekistan. The news was announced on the official IJF website.
“The Executive Committee of the International Judo Federation decided today, 21st September 2022, considering the current international circumstances and in order to ensure the protection of all athletes in the sport of judo, to not allow the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in international judo events until January 2023,” read the statement.
The decision to ban Russian and Belarusian competitors marks a stark change from the organization’s initial resolve to allow them to compete as neutral athletes. For months, Russian and Belarusian athletes were allowed to take part in tournaments, albeit under the IJF flag instead of their own. However, that stance resulted in Ukrainian judokas boycotting a World Cup event in Mongolia in June before threatening to do the same at the world championships if Russian athletes were allowed to compete.
Russia’s removal from the world championships next month may also be considered a blow to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who considers the combat sport to be among his favorite activities.
Putin, a blackbelt and former judo champion, is believed to have been a longtime practitioner of the sport, and even co-authored a book titled “Judo: History, Theory, Practice.” In 2008, he released a judo instructional DVD to celebrate his 56th birthday.
Putin also served as the honorary president of the IJF until he was suspended by the organization for invading Ukraine.
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