Punishing Russian judokas unjustified, says international federation

PARIS: The International Olympic Committee’s call for federations to bar Russian athletes due to the invasion of Ukraine has been criticised as “not justified” by the International Judo Federation.
Russian and Belarusian athletes have been barred from a number of sports including figure skating and athletics, although swimming and tennis have refrained from doing so.
Judo has followed suit though they did suspend Russian President Vladimir Putin as honorary president and cancelled the Kazan Grand Slam tournament, due to be held on May 20-22.
Putin, an accomplished judoka who was awarded an eighth dan in 2014 — one of the highest levels in the sport — has been honorary president since 2008.
IJF President Marius Vizer and Putin are long-standing friends, with Vizer praising him in 2014 as “the perfect ambassador for our sport”.
The IJF will however follow the IOC’s instruction to ban all Russian and Belarusian flags and the national anthems will not be played.
“As sporting events and sport itself promote peace and solidarity worldwide, we consider that those athletes who participate in international sporting events are promoting peace and international solidarity,” the IJF statement said.
“On this basis, the global decision to sanction all Russian athletes, regardless of the different opinions many have expressed, is not considered to be justified.
“We cannot condemn the athletes for what is happening.”
The IJF said it would therefore “provide the Russian athletes with the opportunity to participate in IJF events only under the IJF flag, logo and anthem”.

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