Western countries are calling for Russia’s ban from sporting bodies

WASHINGTON | Western countries on Tuesday urged international sports federations to kick out their Russian and Belarusian members after Russia invaded Ukraine.

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Already on March 8, 35 western countries as well as Japan and South Korea demanded in a joint declaration that no sporting events take place in Russia or Belarus and that their athletes are excluded from international competitions.

This time, the signatories also recommended suspending the Russian and Belarusian bodies from the international sports federations.

“People associated with the Russian and Belarusian states, including but not limited to government officials, should be removed from influential positions in international sports federations, such as boards or organizing committees,” the US State Department ministers’ statement said.

They also urged sporting event organizers to consider suspending television broadcasts in the two countries.

The United States and European Union are trying to isolate Russia to increase pressure on President Vladimir Putin, who was clearly proud to be hosting the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.

Among others, FIFA and the Wimbledon tennis tournament have banned Russian players and teams since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which previously banned Russian athletes from competing under their own banner for doping, recommended excluding Russian and Belarusian athletes.

But two Russians remain on the IOC, Yelena Isinbayeva, an Olympic high jump champion close to Putin, and Russian tennis boss Shamil Tarpischev.

The press release also calls on competitions that still host Russian or Belarusian athletes to explicitly state that the latter do not represent their countries and to ban the use of their flags.

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