GENEVA (AP) – International sports bodies moved to further isolate Russia early yesterday for its invasion of Ukraine and pushed Moscow closer to becoming a pariah on the playing field.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events.
The IOC said it was needed to “protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants”.
It was unclear how the IOC’s request will affect Russian hockey players in the NHL and tennis players, including top-ranked Daniil Medvedev, in Grand Slam, ATP and WTA tournaments outside the authority of the International Tennis Federation.
World Rugby’s executive committee banned Russia and Belarus from all international rugby and cross-border club rugby activities, saying it condemned “Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine and the facilitation of this action by Belarus”.
The IOC also went directly after President Vladimir Putin, whose golden Olympic Order, which was awarded in 2001, has been withdrawn, the IOC said in a statement.
The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and official from Belarus, which has abetted Russia’s invasion by allowing its territory to be used to station troops and launch military attacks.
The IOC said it acted “with a heavy heart”, but noted that the impact of war on Ukrainian sports and athletes who cannot now take part in competitions outweighed the potential damage done to athletes from Russia and Belarus.
Russian Olympic committee leader Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement “there is only one comment to make – we categorically disagree”, adding it would help national federations to challenge “discriminatory rulings”.
Sports bodies across Europe already had moved against Russia early yesterday by refusing to host or play against teams from the country.