Ukraine issues judo threat
OREANDA-NEWS Ukraine will boycott the 2022 World Judo Championships set for Tashkent, Uzbekistan, next month if Russians are allowed to compete in any capacity, officials have vowed.
Unlike a variety of other sports, the International Judo Federation (IJF) has not issued a blanket ban on Russians in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, instead allowing them to compete as neutrals under the organization’s banner.
The IJF did, however, cancel its tournaments in Russia and stripped Russian leader Vladimir Putin – a famous judo enthusiast – of his status as the organization’s honorary president.
According to the Ukrainian Judo Federation (FDU), Russians are set to be cleared as neutrals for the World Championships held in Tashkent from October 6 to 13 – a development which has ignited fury in the Ukrainian camp.
“Today I received information from personal sources that in the days before the World Championship, the International Judo Federation will announce the Russian team under a neutral flag, as was the case at the Grand Slam tournament in Ulaanbaatar,” said FDU president Mikhail Koshlyak
“If the information is true and this is the final decision of the IJF, then we will boycott this event.”
The FDU noted that it had already sent an appeal to the IJF to block Russian and Belarusian judoka from international tournaments.
Ukraine carried out a similar boycott at a World Cup event in Mongolia in June after Russians were cleared to compete as neutrals.
The upcoming World Judo Championships in the Uzbek capital serve as part of the official Olympic qualification period for the Paris 2024 Games.
A similar situation is playing out in the combat sport Sambo, where Ukraine is boycotting the European Championships in Serbia because of Russian participation under neutral status.
Russian Sambo officials responded by describing the situation as disappointing and repeating their calls for politics not to interfere in sport.
Ukraine has consistently issued demands at the highest level – including from President Vladimir Zelensky – for Russian athletes to face complete isolation from world sport.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially recommended a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes to global sports federations at the end of February.
However, indications this week have suggested that the IOC is sounding out members over a potential “pathway” for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return.
Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said on Thursday that the IOC leadership and figures in the West had already understood they were at a “dead end” with the sporting sanctions imposed on Russia.