Judo-Ukraine to Boycott World Championships over Russia, Belarus Inclusion

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Ukrainian judokas will not take part in this month’s world championships in Qatar following the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) decision to readmit Russians and Belarusians as neutrals, the Ukrainian Judo Federation (UJF) said on Monday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last month recommended that athletes from the two countries be allowed to return to international competition as neutrals.

The IJF last week announced that it would allow judoka from Russia and Belarus to participate in the May 7-14 championships, saying its decision would allow Russians and Belarusians to participate in qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The IOC’s recommendations exclude athletes who support the war or are contracted to military or national security agencies. The IJF has said it has enlisted an independent company to perform background checks and identify any such athletes.

However, the Ukrainian federation alleged that a number of Russian judoka registered for the championships are “active servicemen”.

“We do not see here neutrality, equal conditions and a ‘bridge to peace’, as stated in the IJF Resolution on the participation of Russian and Belarusian teams in the World Championships in Doha,” the UJF said.

“We see here a decision that contradicts the latest recommendations of the International Olympic Committee … We are disappointed with the decision of the International Judo Federation. Therefore, we have decided not to participate in the World Championships in Doha.”

Ukraine has barred its national sports teams from competing in events that include competitors from Russia and Belarus.

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The IJF and the Judo Federation of Russia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

After Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, for which Belarus was a staging area for Russian troops, the IJF removed Russian President Vladimir Putin from his position as honorary president and cancelled a Grand Slam event in Kazan, Russia.