Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, many sports governing bodies banned Russian athletes from competition. However, there are still some sports which allow the Russian athletes to compete under a few conditions.
The Russian athletes are still able to compete in judo competitions. However, they must do so without their flag and are officially representing the International Judo Federation.
Despite the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation to exclude all athletes from Russia and Belarus, the IJF still lets them compete to prevent discrimination and hate towards the Russian and Belarusian athletes.
“The International Judo Federation is against war, against any kind of violence, as well as hate and discrimination,” IJF general director Vlad Marinescu said in a statement.
“Sport is not politics, sport is a bridge between different cultures. Our values are the values of sport, where there is no room for politics.”
They also stated that they will punish any athlete who displays “political vindication or unsportsmanlike attitude.”
Russian athletes will start to compete in the Grand Slam tournament in Mongolia this Friday.
Reacting to that, Ukraine is staying away from the competition in protest. In an open letter dated Thursday, Ukrainian Judo Federation president Mykhailo Koshliak voiced his complaints.
“Everybody who follows world sport a small way understands that Russian athletes are a key part of this country’s aggressive propaganda politics,” he wrote.
“Speaking of Russia and sport, it is by no means possible to say that ‘sport is out of politics.’ The silence of Russian and Belarusian athletes and coaches supports the war against Ukraine and kills thousands of Ukrainian citizens.”
He also alleged that up to 11 athletes competing on the Russian team are representatives of the Russian Armed Forces. One of them is Olympic medalist Madina Taimazova, who won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. Her rank is listed as a warrant officer.
Luthfi Prawiro is a writer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has a strong passion for combat sports and a BA in Psychology. His undergraduate thesis was on the Sports Psychology of MMA.