Sport-Sporting bodies move to ban Russian athletes amid invasion of Ukraine

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-As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued on Monday, sporting bodies moved to bar Russian athletes from competing in international events, with FIFA and UEFA suspending Russia’s national teams and clubs from international football.

The move makes it likely that Russia will be excluded from this year’s World Cup and the women’s Euro 2020 tournament.

“FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice,” UEFA said in a statement.

In a statement the Russian Football Federation said it “categorically disagreed” with the decision and added that it was contrary to the “spirit of sports”.

UEFA also confirmed RB Leipzig had been given a walkover into the Europa League quarter-finals after their last-16 match with Spartak Moscow was called off and added that the governing body has cancelled its sponsorship deal with Russian energy company Gazprom.

IOC RECOMMENDS RUSSIA, BELARUS BAN

Earlier on Monday, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board recommended sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from competing in events.

The IOC said its executive board made the decision “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants”.

The Russian Olympic Committee categorically disagreed with the IOC, saying the decision “contradicts both the regulatory documents of the IOC and the (Olympic) Charter”.

Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina said she will not play against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in the Monterrey Open, and refused to play against any Russian or Belarusian players until tennis’ governing bodies implement the IOC’s recommendations.

The IOC’s statement came shortly before the Winter Paralympics begin in Beijing on Friday. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will meet on Wednesday to discuss Russia ahead of the Games.

The British Olympic Association together with the National Olympic Committee of Germany demanded the immediate exclusion of Russia and Belarus from international sport.

EVENTS CALLED OFF

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) also suspended all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from its competitions until further notice.

It also withdrew Russia’s hosting rights for the Dec. 26-Jan. 5 World Junior Championship out of concern for the well-being of players, officials and fans.

Badminton’s world governing body (BWF) cancelled all sanctioned tournaments in Russia and Belarus, adding that no other badminton tournaments will be allocated to those regions until further notice.

Swimming’s global governing body FINA called off the World Junior Swimming Championships that were to take place in Kazan, while the World Curling Federation began the process of removing the Russian federation’s entries from the World Championships.

Ukraine’s motorsports federation called on Formula One’s governing FIA to ban all Russian and Belarusian license holders from taking part in its competitions, which if accepted could put Russia’s Nikita Mazepin out of the sport.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) executive board called for all international events to be removed from Russia and Belarus.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

Russian billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich, who owns Premier League soccer club Chelsea, has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich was asked by Ukraine to help mediate because of his background in Russia, where he made a fortune in the chaotic 1990s period of post-communist privatisation, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on condition of anonymity.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru and Rory Carroll in Los AngelesEditing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)

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