FIFA World Cup Ban to Paralympics Green Light: How World of Sports Has Reacted to War in Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a widespread backlash in the sports world, with the country booted out of this year’s World Cup. However their Paralympians will be permitted to compete at the Beijing Winter Games under the Paralympic flag.

A look at some of the main developments:

FOOTBALL- Russia is expelled from the 2022 World Cup after being suspended from all international competitions, FIFA and UEFA announce in a joint statement. The decision also affects Russian clubs in European tournaments.

— The Russian men’s team was due to play in qualifying play-offs in March for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, while its women’s side had qualified for the European Championship in England, to be held in July.

— The Polish FA had previously insisted they would not play Russia in a World Cup play-off semi-final. Poland were due to play in Moscow on March 24, with the winners scheduled to face Sweden or the Czech Republic, who had also said they would boycott any game against Russia.

— UEFA also announces that it is ending its partnership with Russian state energy giant Gazprom, which was believed to have been paying around 40 million euros ($45 million) a year in a deal due to run until 2024.

— Saint Petersburg were stripped as hosts of UEFA’s Champions League final set for May 28. The game has been switched to the Stade de France in Paris.

— On Saturday, Chelsea’s billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich said he was handing over the “stewardship and care” of the Premier League club to the trustees of its charitable foundation. In his statement, there was no mention of the crisis in Ukraine.

IOC- The International Olympic Committee urges sports federations and organisers to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events. A ban of this kind would see Russia join the Yugoslavia of Slobodan Milosevic and South Africa under apartheid rule as major sporting pariahs.

PARALYMPICS- Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete at the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said in a statement they will take part as neutrals and will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table.

TENNIS- Russian and Belarusian players will continue to be allowed to compete in ATP and WTA events and at Grand Slam tournaments, under a neutral flag, the sport’s governing bodies announce. However, the ITF does ban both countries’ teams from the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.

— Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina on Monday said she would refuse to play Russian Anastasia Potapova in Monterrey, but the former world number three is now expected to take to the court following the WTA’s sanctions. Svitolina, who was born in Odessa, had already pledged to donate her prize money from forthcoming tournaments to her country’s military and aid groups.

— Svitolina’s compatriot Dayana Yastremska said she and her family spent two nights sheltering underground in Odessa. “We didn’t realise or understand what was going on. It was crazy. It wasn’t a movie or a video game. We were very shocked. We left the apartment to take shelter in the underground car park while the bombs continued to explode,” the former top-25 player told a press conference in Lyon on Monday. Yastremska saved two match points to claim an emotional first-round win against Romania’s Ana Bogdan on Tuesday.

FORMULA ONE- The Russian Grand Prix, scheduled for September 25, was cancelled, a day after defending world champion Max Verstappen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel publicly declared their opposition to driving in the race. Verstappen said: “When a country is at war, it’s not right to run there.” Vettel added: “I will not go. I think it’s wrong to race in the country.”

— American Formula One team Haas decided not to sport the Russian colours of its title sponsor Uralkali during the last day of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

— The FIA has since said that the Russian and Belarusian flags will not be displayed or their national anthems played at its events. However, Russian F1 driver Nikita Mazepin will be able to race.

ICE HOCKEY- The International Ice Hockey Federation suspends all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from its competitions until further notice. It also strips Russia of the hosting rights for the 2023 junior world championships.

BOXING- Boxing’s four major sanctioning bodies — the International Boxing federation, World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization — said in a joint statement they will not sanction bouts in Russia. “Just as the world claims for cease of fire, our organizations have decided to not sanction any boxing championships in Russia,” they said.

JUDO- Russian President Vladimir Putin was suspended as honorary president of the International Judo Federation (IJF). Putin, an accomplished judoka who was awarded an eighth dan in 2014 — one of the highest levels in the sport, had been honorary president since 2008.

FENCING- Ukrainian fencers withdrew from the world championships in Cairo to avoid a match with Russia. The male Ukrainian team, dressed in the yellow and blue of their national flag, downed their swords and picked up signs to protest. “Stop Russia! Stop the war!,” the signs read, written in English. “Save Ukraine! Save Europe”.

RUGBY- Rugby’s world governing body banned Russia and Belarus from all international rugby “until further notice”. Russia’s membership of World Rugby was also suspended indefinitely, meaning the country’s slim hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in France are over.

CYCLING- The UCI bans all Russian professional teams and national teams from racing in competitive cycling. However, Russian riders who compete for teams from other nations will be able to continue in the sport.

BADMINTON- The Badminton World Federation (BWF) strengthened within a matter of hours their measures against Russia and Belarus. Having originally cancelled all sanctioned tournaments in Russia and Belarus, they announced a ban on athletes and officials representing the two countries from participating at tournaments sanctioned by the world federation.

SWIMMING- Putin, like in other sports, has had his personal award, the FINA Order, withdrawn by the governing body. However, FINA stops short of barring all Russians and Belarusians, saying they could be “accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams”.

TAEKWONDO- World Taekwondo said Tuesday they were stripping Vladimir Putin of an honorary black belt, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine goes against the sport’s motto: “Peace is more precious than triumph”. The body also said no Russian or Belarusian national flags or anthems will be displayed and played at events, nor will any future events be organised in the two countries.

ICE SKATING- Russian and Belarus ice skaters have been barred from all competitions by the International Skating Union (ISU). Russia is a powerhouse in figure skating, most recently winning six medals — two of them gold — at the Beijing Winter Olympics. The blanket ban on athletes competing also includes short track and speed skating.

VOLLEYBALL- Russia has been stripped of hosting the men’s Volleyball World Championships in August and September by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB).

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