Russian athletes are excluded from many sports. Not so in judo. Because 24 Russians are starting at a Grand Slam tournament, the Ukrainian team boycotts the event and accuses the Russian team of propaganda and war support.
In protest against the participation of Russian athletes, the Ukrainian judo team is boycotting the Grand Slam tournament in Mongolia. 24 athletes from Russia are taking part in the event, which has been running since Friday and is part of the qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. After the invasion of Ukraine, judo is one of the few Olympic sports that Russians are still allowed to compete in, without a flag and officially for the International Judo Federation (IJF).
So far, Russians have stayed away from international judo competitions on the grounds that the IJF has "logistical and security" concerns.
"Anyone who follows world sport a little understands that Russian athletes are an important part of this country's aggressive propaganda policy," Ukrainian Judo Federation President Mykhailo Koshliak wrote in an open letter. "Speaking of Russia and sport, one cannot say that sport stays out of politics. The silence of Russian and Belarusian athletes and coaches supports the war against Ukraine and kills thousands of Ukrainian citizens."
The International Judo Federation argued it was preventing discrimination by allowing Russians to continue competing. In addition, any athlete who shows "political statements or unsportsmanlike behavior" will be punished. "The International Judo Federation is against war, against any kind of violence, hate and discrimination. Sport is not politics, sport is a bridge between different cultures. Our values are the values of sport where there is no place for politics", said IJF Director General Vlad Marinescu.