In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the IMMAF temporarily banned the Russian MMA Union. The head of the Russian MMA Union and a famed heavyweight recently requested permission from the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) for Russian competitors to participate in the competitions for next year.
Russian athletes should be allowed back into international competition, according to Fedor Emelianenko.
Emelianenko said that the present socio-political environment was holding Russian athletes “hostage” in a statement that was received by the state-run news outlet Tass.ru.
According to Emelianenko,
“Until recently, sport was out of politics, and now the situation has developed that talented Russian athletes are hostages of socio-political problems between states.”
“Hopes, plans and colossal efforts have been reduced to zero, faith in the justice of the main principles of Olympism has been lost. We are sure that athletes should compete with worthy opponents, because this is the most important thing for the development of sports. And our team is one of the strongest in the world.”
“A whole competitive and constantly developing team has dropped out of the world MMA. We would like to note that this year the Russian national team was formed as part of the national championship and is ready to take part in all international competitions next year.”
Russia has been trying to push against International Olympic Committee for the ban and even made comparisons between attitudes towards Russian athletes and transgender participation.
“Our principles are that everyone has to have access to sport without discrimination. When we talk about competition, the mission of those responsible for it is to make it fair,” chairman of IOC, Bach said.
“Our recommendations to all international federations is that they follow two processes: that they talk to all those involved with women, transsexuals, human rights experts, scientists, doctors and, based on science, make the decision of where fair play ends and where it begins.”
Bach also shared that return of Russian athletes to international competition is a speculation at this point:
“We are very clear that this is not the time to allow these recommendations, but our mission is also to think in the long term. And our mission is to unite all athletes in the world in peaceful competition, even if their countries are at war. Or in other situations,” Bach said.
“We have Israelis and Palestinians competing against each other, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, athletes from Yemen and Saudi Arabia. From Libya and France…
“If you have a competition only of like-minded countries, it could be a great sporting event, but it is not a symbol of peace. However, this is not the time, as I said, to make such decisions.”