Judo phenom Georgii Zantaraia recently made headlines following his statement regarding the ongoing Russian war. Zantaraia said he will renounce his IJF title if Russia is allowed to compete this year.
The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine yet again caused trouble in the world of sports. Russian athletes have been banned from a number of sports events and venues after Russian president Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine last February.
This time, an Ukrainian judoka Georgii Zantaraia released an ultimatum on his Instagram account. The 34-year-old threatened to renounce all of his titles if any Russian athletes are allowed to compete in the upcoming tournament. Zantaraia posted the statement after he learned that the International Judo Federation (IJF) had accepted Russian athletes to register through their website.
I’ve just saw on the official website of the International Judo Federation that russian athletes have registered to participate in the tournament in Ulaanbaatar and are able to participate under the neutral status of a candidate (under the flag of the Federation).
Let me remind you that I have already written before that sport cannot stand aside from political issues, especially when it comes to war.
That’s why I want to make such an important message to me:
📍If russian athletes are allowed to take part in the tournament, I will officially renounce all my titles and the title of world champion!
It’s a shame that my favorite sport federation, which always emphasizes such values as peace, unity and friendship, is now passively supporting the war in Ukraine. I will not stand aside, I want everyone to know that while you are registering for the tournament – hundreds of people die every day in Ukraine, thousands more live under daily shelling and explosions.
I want to assure you that Ukraine will not participate in the tournament if russian representatives are admitted to it even under the flag of the Federation.
It is very important for me that the sport I have been playing all my life and its main representatives be on the side of Ukraine: the country where I grew up, lived, work and a country that cannot function properly now because of the war started by russia!
Glory to Ukraine! 💙💛”
Zantaraia wrote in the caption.
Georgii Zantaraia has been competing in Judo for years and has won many championships. In 2009, he became world champion at the 2009 World Judo Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He also won the 2009 European Judo Championships in Georgia and many other championships the following years. Despite having competed in a lot of tournaments, Zantaraia believes the IJF is to blame for not banning Russian judoka from competing.
In IJF’s defense, any athletes from any country have an equal rights and opportunity to compete, as long as they don’t support the war. They also do this to stick to their concept of separating sports and politics. The IJF believes Russian athletes don’t have enough power to do anything with the war and shouldn’t receive punishment.
“Everybody who is supporting the war, can and should be sanctioned, but everybody who does not support the war, their rights must be respected, under our own rules and the rules of international law; there is no sanction and there should be no sanction for holding a passport.” IOC president Thomas Bach said on the IJF website.
IJF president Marius Vizer also added that they would make sure any decision is following the value of judo.
“The sport of judo is a sport of education. It teaches values such as respect, friendship, courage, and mutual aid. Judo has always strived to avoid political interference or any form of discrimination, against athletes or any other judo representatives. In our philosophy and communication, we often refer to ourselves, the global judo community, as the judo family and this is based on the very principles that guide us: friendship and respect.” Vizer said.
Vladimir Putin was previously stripped of his position in the IJF.
Ezra Samuel is a passionate freelance writer with a particular love for covering MMA news. His interest in the sport dates back to his college days, and he has since established himself as a respected voice in the MMA community. Over the years, Ezra has contributed his writing to a variety of digital outlets, including the popular site calfkicker.