Wednesday, March 16, 2022

‘Game Over’ – Russian Sports Banned from International Competition

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 12 – Russians may be able to shrug off many kinds of sanctions that the West has imposed because of Putin’s war in Ukraine, but there is one that few of them can ignore and aren’t upset about: bans on Russian teams from participating in international competitions or hosting them, Georgy Sudanov says.

            For both fans and athletes, these bans mean that the game is over, the Sovershenno Sekretno journalist says, with Russians losing the opportunity to root for their country’s athletes and the athletes no longer able to compete at world class levels in most sports (

            In addition to the much-reported bans on Russian soccer and hockey, Sudanov says, “Russian volleyball players, basketballers, light athletes, figure skaters, biathlon sports figures, skiers and many, many others” are now excluded to the dismay of both athletes and fans who are angry about this attack on Russia’s dignity.

            As of now, “Russian chess players, swimmers, cyclists, gymnasts, judoists, tennis players, and professional boxes are still allowed to perform in a neutral status,” and “the international federations which govern curling, amateur boxing, heavy athletics and surfing have still not taken a position on this issue,” the journalist continues.

            In addition, Russia has lost the possibility of holding the men’s volleyball world championship, the curling championship of Europe, the international bandy competition, the Kremlin cup tennis championship, and the world cup for skiing. Not only are fans angry but organizers are losing millions.

            Russians are debating what to do. Some want to fight and think they can win at least some reversals of the bans. Others want to compete and say they favor doing so under neutral flags if that is the only way forward. And some favor simply accepting the bans and having Russians no longer take part in international competitions.

            Those who favor the third option argue that Russians won’t lose anything if their athletes and teams do that. The Soviet Union was often in this position and didn’t. But Sudanov points out that its teams were really international ones that drew on what are now the former Soviet republics.

            Such isolation will be extremely harmful to the athletes, the fans and the country, he continues. In some sports more and in others less; and perhaps the first thing Moscow can do is to organize Goodwill Games that will include Belarusians, Syrians and Serbs even if no one else will show up.

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