Russian and Belarusian judokas will not be allowed to compete at the 2022 World Judo Championships in Uzbekistan next month despite previously being cleared to attend events as neutrals, it has been announced.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) bucked the trend back in March when – in contrast to the blanket bans issued by numerous other sporting federations – it continued to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to appear at tournaments, although only under the IJF flag.
That stance led to fury in Ukraine, whose judokas boycotted a World Cup event in Mongolia in June and threatened to do the same at the World Championships in Tashkent in October if Russians were present.
In a statement on Wednesday, the IJF confirmed that it would reverse its position for the remainder of 2022.
“The Executive Committee of the International Judo Federation decided today, 21st September 2022, considering the current international circumstances and in order to ensure the protection of all athletes in the sport of judo, to not allow the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in international judo events until January 2023,” read a message on the organization’s website.
Russian three-time world judo champion Aleksandr Mikhaylin indicated earlier this week that the decision was imminent, revealing he had already discussed the matter with members of the Russian team.
“I can only imagine how the guys feel now, they all prepared so much,” he told Metaratings.
“The tournament in Mongolia showed that they are now in very good shape.
“I think that this World Championship was going to be a sensation for Russia, but politics intervened here, which, in my opinion, is completely contrary to the Olympic Charter,” added the 2012 Olympic silver medalist.
The IJF ban removes Russians from one of the rare sports where they had been cleared to feature at major international tournaments.
Other exceptions remain such as tennis and the combat sport Sambo – although in the latter case Ukraine again reacted furiously after Russians performed as neutrals at the recent European Championships in Serbia, where they topped the medal table.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially recommended a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes to global sports federations on February 28.
Reports last week suggested that the IOC was sounding out members over a potential “pathway” for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return.
Elsewhere, however, IOC chief Thomas Bach has said that it is “not the right time” to recommend that the bans be lifted.
Russian officials have decried the sporting bans as discriminatory and contrary to the principles of sport being outside of politics.
It has also been noted that numerous countries whose governments have conducted military campaigns down the years – not least the US and its NATO allies – have escaped similar punishments.
Russian sporting officials express regret after Ukraine boycott
Russia’s most famous judoka is perhaps the nation’s president, Vladimir Putin.
Announcing back in March that it would allow Russians to continue to compete as neutrals, the IJF did punish the country by removing events it had planned there, while stripping Putin of his status as the organization’s honorary president.