Home WorldAsia Russia has Set Off a War in Ukraine, FIFA and the Paralympic Winter Games Suspended the Qualifications. Where Should Russian Athletes Go?

Russia has Set Off a War in Ukraine, FIFA and the Paralympic Winter Games Suspended the Qualifications. Where Should Russian Athletes Go?

by Amélie Poulain

After Russia launched an attack on Ukraine on February 24 and ignited the war, major sports events in the world, such as the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games, the World Football Championship, Formula One, and the Kremlin Cup tennis events have been suspended or boycott measures.

The 2022 Winter Paralympic Games has officially launched on March 4. (Photo via wikipedia.org)

Taipei, TAIWAN (Merxwire) – The 2022 Winter Paralympic Games officially debuted in Beijing on March 4. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced a ban on 83 athletes from Russia and Belarus on the day before the opening ceremony under the backlash from representatives from various countries and the pressure of international public opinion. Andrew Parsons, President of IPC, said he would help Russian and Belarusian players return home. The ban widened the isolation of their athletes in the international sports world.

The IPC initially ruled on March 3 that athletes from the Russian and Belarusian Paralympic delegations could compete as neutral athletes without the use of country names, flags, and anthems, but would not be included in the medals, and the delegations of the two countries have the right to appeal the decision in court. Parsons said it was the most severe punishment for Russia violating the Olympic Truce, given its political neutrality and existing regulations.

Immediately after this decision was announced, it was severely criticized by several countries from the world. The Paralympic Committees of the US and UK expressed disappointment and did not rule out a boycott. Nadine Dorries, British Secretary of State called on the IPC to reconsider its decision. Many athletes in the player village expressed their unwillingness to compete with the players from the two countries, causing chaos in the schedule. The antagonism among athletes also gradually increased. To ensure that about 600 athletes can participate in the event normally, and at the same time worrying about the safety of players from the two countries, the IPC had to change its decision and ban Russia and Belarus from participating in the Winter Paralympic Games. The Paralympic Committee of Russia dismissed the decision as baseless, while Oleg Matytsin, Russian Sports Minister, said the move seriously undermined the rights of athletes and violated the Charter, and would file a lawsuit in protest.

IPC announces ban on Russia and Belarus from participating in 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympic Games. (Photo via unsplash.com)

In addition to the Winter Paralympic Games, the world’s most important football event “2022 Qatar World Cup”, Russia has confirmed that it will not qualify for participation. FIFA announced on February 27 that it would cancel all international football matches and qualifying matches held in Russia and move the event to a neutral third place. FIFA and UEFA issued a joint statement on February 28, banning the Russian national team and club teams from participating in all international competitions organized by FIFA and UEFA until the situation in Ukraine improves. This decision means that Russia has lost the right to participate in the European qualification play-offs of the Qatar World Cup this month and the Women’s UEFA Champions League in July. Poland, which refused to play against Russia, directly qualified for the World Cup European qualifying round, and Russia was kicked out of the Qatar World Cup. FIFA said it hopes to send a message of unity and peace through football.

The Russian Football Association has lodged a solemn protest against the ban, believing that this move is an act of dividing the football circle and a violation of the principles of equality, respect, and political neutrality in sports. Artem Dzyuba, the captain of the Russian national football team, has spoken out against the war, but also against double standards and discrimination against nationality. Andriy Shevchenko, the legend of Ukrainian football, is quite supportive of this decision because he has had no time to focus on football since the war started, and his family is still insisting on staying in Ukraine, fighting for freedom and principle. EA Sports, the famous game publisher, has also issued a statement saying that it will temporarily remove Russia and Belarus from its football and professional ice hockey games, to call for peace and hope that the war will end as soon as possible.

FIFA adopts a variety of temporary employment and registration rules to help solve the problem of players arising from the war in Ukraine. (Screenshot via FIFA’s official website)

Other sports events have also introduced different boycott rules. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) banned Russia and Belarus from participating in team events, suspended their ITF memberships, and players from the two countries can only participate in the competition as neutral identities that do not represent the country. The WTA, ATP, and the Four Slams issued a joint statement canceling the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in October. Including players of Russian nationality such as Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, the nationality column will be blank for now. Medviv expresses respect for this resolution and hopes that the war will end as soon as possible. He was afraid that the war will deprive children of their trust and love for the world, as well as their right to pursue basic life opportunities and lofty dreams.

After Sebastian Vettel, 4-time F1 world champion, and Max Verstappennew, champion of F1 in 2021 announced that they would not participate in this year’s race in Russia to express their solemn protest against the ruthless war brought by Russia with actions. The FIA and F1 have announced the cancellation of the Russian race on September 25 this year, as well as the termination of the Russian Grand Prix contract, and will no longer hold F1 races in Russia.

The nationalities of Russian stars such as Medvedev and Rublev are blank in the ATP rankings. (Screenshot via atptour.com)

Valeriy Sushkevych, chairman of the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee, admitted that this was the most difficult and heavy race he had ever participated in, and it was a miracle that the athletes could successfully arrive in Beijing for the competition. The participating athletes were trapped in the war in Ukraine and escaped under artillery fire for 4 days and 4 nights before leaving the country successfully. Some are fleeing to other countries and then trying to fly to Beijing. They do not know when the war will end or whether they will be able to return home. Grygorii Vovchynskyi, the men’s stance sprinter who won Ukraine’s first gold medal, admits that when the war begins, he sheds tears just thinking about his child’s future. Anastasiia Laletina announced her withdrawal after learning that her father in Ukraine had become a prisoner of war. This is the reality that Ukraine is currently facing.

Athletes of Russian and Belarusian nationality are said to be victims of the warring countries. Some people have questioned that the numerous bans are a form of discrimination, which harms the peace and unity of sports and crosses the boundary between politics and sports. Keith Rathbone, a sports historian at Macquarie University in Australia, believes that the rationality of the sports ban is indeed worth discussing, but the Ukrainian people are currently being treated more unfairly, so Athletes in the warring states will be affected. It’s just that we don’t know whether these boycotts will be effective in stopping the ongoing war. As discontent spreads, more games and athletes may be affected.

Hoping the war will end as soon as possible and peace will come soon. (Photo via pixabay.com)

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