Ukrainian athletes won’t participate in the World Judo Championships in Qatar next week because the Russian and Belarusian teams are being allowed to compete under a neutral flag, the Ukrainian Judo Federation (UJF) said Monday.
The International Judo Federation’s (IJF) decision last week to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete contradicts the position of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on neutral athletes, the Ukrainian governing body said, alleging that many of them were active participants in the Russian military which invaded Ukraine.
“The majority of the [Russian] team are athletes who are active servicemen of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, part of the army that attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and is still waging a brutal full-scale war on our territory,” the UJF said in a statement on its website.
In March, the IOC recommended that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be able to compete in the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games as individuals under a neutral banner. Athletes under contract to those countries’ armed forces, or who actively support the invasion of Ukraine, should be excluded, it said.
The IJF on Saturday said it would allow Russian and Belarusian judokas to participate in the May 7-14 tournament as “individual neutral athletes.” The federation would “engage an independent, reputable company to perform background checks on all the individuals proposed for participation, including social media content, with specific reference to possible war propaganda,” it said.
The IJF couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin had his role as honorary president of the IJF suspended last year in the days after he launched the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.