West urges Russia removal from sport governing boards

Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, a member of the International Olympic Committee, wipes a tear during a reception by President Vladimir Putin for Olympic athletes at the Kremlin in July 2016
Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, a member of the International Olympic Committee, wipes a tear during a reception by President Vladimir Putin for Olympic athletes at the Kremlin in July 2016.
Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL/AFP/File
Source: AFP

Western powers on Tuesday called for international sport federations to remove state-affiliated Russians and Belarusians over the Ukraine invasion, after leading events already banned their athletes.

In a joint statement, 35 nations from the West plus Japan and South Korea reiterated a March 8 call for no international sporting events to take place in Russia or Belarus and for their citizens to be banned from international competitions.

In fresh recommendations, the 35 nations called for Russian and Belarusian governing bodies to be suspended from international sport federations.

“Individuals closely aligned to the Russian and Belarusian states, including but not limited to government officials, should be removed from positions of influence on international sport federations, such as boards and organizing committees,” said the statement by sport ministers and culture officials released by the US State Department.

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They also called on event organizers to consider suspending broadcasts into Russia and Belarus.

The United States and European Union have led a campaign to ostracize Russia in hopes of pressuring President Vladimir Putin, who took visible pride in Russia’s hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2018 World Cup.

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World football governing authority FIFA and leading tennis tournament Wimbledon among others have banned Russians from competition since the February 24 invasion.

The International Olympic Committee, which had already barred Russian athletes from competing under their flag due to doping, has recommended a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes.

But two Russians remain on the committee — Yelena Isinbayeva, an Olympic pole vault medalist close to Putin, and Russia’s tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev.

The new joint statement called for events that allow Russian and Belarusian participation to make explicit that they do not represent their states and to ban use of their flags.

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Belarus has been targeted over its support for the invasion, with Ukraine recently reporting being struck by missiles from its northern neighbor.

Veteran Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Putin and sought to crush protests that broke out after wide allegations of fraud in his 2020 re-election.

Source: AFP

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