One of the biggest sales of a Premier League club ever has been completed by a group led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly with the group paying $3.1 billion for two-time Champions League winners Chelsea, which had to be sold by the end of the month because of sanctions placed on its now-former owner, Roman Abramovich.
Abramovich bought the club 19 years ago. His tenure included two Champions League titles including last year, this year’s FIFA Club World Cup championship and five Premier League titles. But the Russian oligarch was sanctioned last month due to links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, forcing the club to operate under a temporary government license that was set to expire at the end of May.
The sale was set up by the British government in a way they said will not allow Abramovich to profit from the enforced sale of the club. The government said proceeds from the sale will go into a frozen bank account to be donated to charity instead of its former owner.
“Late last night the UK government reached a position where we could issue a license that permits the sale of Chelsea,” a government spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. “Following extensive work, we are now satisfied that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual. We will now begin the process of ensuring the proceeds of the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting victims of the war.
More than a half-dozen groups, the majority of which were U.S.-based, tried to put together groups in an attempt to buy Chelsea before the Boehly-led consortium was selected earlier this month as the preferred bidder. Boehly will be the face of the ownership group while California private equity firm Clearlake Capital will own a majority of the shares in Chelsea. Other investors include U.S. billionaire Mark Walter, also a co-owner of the Dodgers, and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss.
Chelsea won 21 trophies under Abramovich overall after he bought the team in 2003, bringing in a wave of success the club had never previous experienced. His impact on European soccer has been nothing short of revolutionary, ushering in an era of high-priced transfers the likes had never been seen before in European football, let along England. In many ways, the amount of money that Abramovich has spent on the club — more than $2 billion in less than two decades — acquiring big-name players with money seemingly as no object ushered in the era of where now clubs are all but owned by countries.
A member of the royal family in the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mansour, bought Manchester City in 2008; the club recently won the Premier League for fourth time in the past five seasons and fifth time overall, having never before challenged for a title. Paris Saint-Germain, which has won eight of the past 10 Ligue 1 titles in France, is owned and run by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund. Newcastle United, like Chelsea a member of the Premier League, were bought earlier this season by a group with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund holding 80 percent of the shares.
Abramovich was among seven wealthy Russians who this spring had their assets frozen under British sanctions as Boris Johnson’s administration deployed financial measures to pressure Putin. The government called Abramovich a “pro-Kremlin oligarch” who is worth more than $12 billion and should be punished due to his association with Putin. Abramovich was also linked with “destabilizing … undermining and threatening” Ukraine.
Abramovich, whose fortune was made in oil and aluminium after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, is banned from entering Britain and has not had a British visa since 2018 amid a clampdown on rich Russians in the aftermath of the poisonings of Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.
While not nearly to the degree that Chelsea is affected, another Premier League club had to adjust to the political landscape. Everton this season suspended all sponsorship arrangements with its Russian commercial partners, including USM, which held an exclusive option on the naming rights to its proposed new stadium. USM’s founder is Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek-born Russian oligarch who has invested significant amounts of money in the club.
ATP, WTA Tours Axe Wimbledon Ranking Points After Ban
The ATP and WTA Tours will not award points toward its world ranking that players would traditionally earn at Wimbledon because of last month’s announcement by the All England Club to ban players from Russia and Belarus over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Both tours announced the decision two days before the start of the French Open. Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigous event on the calendar each year, starts June 27.
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our tour,” the ATP said in a statement. “The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the U.K. this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP ranking system.”
“The stance we are taking is about protecting the equal opportunities that WTA players should have to compete as individuals,” the WTA Tour said in its statement. “If we do not take this stance, then we abandon our fundamental principle and allow the WTA to become an example to support discrimination based on nationality at other events and in other regions around the world. The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject such discrimination.”
Wimbledon’s ban of Russian and Belarussian players from the biggest tennis tournament in the world drew intense criticism from two of the biggest names in men’s tennis. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both criticized the All England Tennis Club in Madrid earlier this month.
“It’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam winner, said. “Wimbledon just took their decision. … The government didn’t force them to do it.”
While there were no top contenders on the women’s side from Russia, the decision will prevent men’s No. 2 Daniil Medvedev from trying to win at the All England Club for the first time. There are four Russian men in the top 30 of the ATP Tour, led by Medvedev, who deflected questions about Wimbledon’s Russia policy on Friday.
“Right now I’m focused on Roland Garros,” he said at a pre-tournament news conference. When a reporter raised the possibility of legal action against the All England Club, Medvedev said: “Me personally, I won’t go to court.”
Russia also has five women in the top 40 on the WTA Tour, although none in the top 10. There are two prominent Belarussian women’s players, No. 4-ranked Aryna Sabalenka, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, and Victoria Azarenka, a former No. 1 who is currently is ranked No. 18.
“It’s not the same thing, but going through something similar earlier this year for myself, it’s frustrating knowing that you’re not able to play,” said Djokovic, who was deported from Australia ahead of the first Grand Slam of the season because of his unvaccinated status. “I still stand by my position that I don’t support the [Wimbledon] decision. I think it’s just not fair, it’s not right, but it is what it is.”
The ATP and WTA tennis tours have both criticized the All England Club’s decision. Russian and Belarusian players have been competing on the two tours, a decision that has been criticized by some Ukrainian players.
Olga Savchuk, the captain of Ukraine’s Billie Jean King Cup team which competed against the United States in Asheville, North Carolina, said she expected a Wimbledon ban.
“I think it’s just a matter of time,” Savchuk told The New York Times. “It’s not me who’s making the decision, but I think they should also be banned from playing as individuals. It cannot just be a sanction against 90 percent of the Russian people and 10 percent not.”
The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open, has not made a decision about players from Russia and Belarus; that tournament starts Aug. 29.
IIHF Moves 2023 World Championships Out of Russia
The International Ice Hockey Federation will move the 2023 World Championships out of Russia, the latest blow to Vladimir Putin as the sports world continues its exclusion of the country after its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
The event was scheduled for May 5–21, 2023, in St. Petersburg. The IIHF said in its statement that it will confirm a new host for the 2023 event during the annual congress in Tampere, Finland, during the final week of the 2022 world championships.
“The decision to relocate the event was taken primarily out of concern for the safety and well-being of all participating players, officials, media, and fans,” the IIHF’s statement said. “As was the case with Council’s earlier decision to withdraw the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship that was to be held in Omsk and Novosibirsk, Russia, the Council expressed significant concerns over the safe freedom of movement of players and officials to, from, and within Russia.”
Earlier this year the IIHF removed Russia’s hosting rights for all tournaments in 2022. Russia had been set to host the 2023 World Junior Championship as well before it and Belarus were banned in February from international play.
Russian Olympians Face Backlash After Showing Support for Putin
Several Russian Olympic athletes participated in a rally supporting President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, sparking an international backlash that has only increased the country’s status as a sporting pariah.
Olympic champion swimmer Evgeny Rylov is under investigation for attending the event, the sport’s governing body, FINA, told The Associated Press. Rylov also lost his endorsement deal with Speedo because of his involvement. Rylov had posted on Instagram on Wednesday that he would boycott the world championships in June and July “as a sign of support” for Russian athletes barred from other competitions.
Russian and Belarusian swimmers were banned Thursday from competing at the world championships by FINA, the sport’s governing body which originally planned to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete as “neutral athletes.” The event, which will be held in Hungary in June and July, includes swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming. Russia was also stripped of hosting the world short-course championships in Kazan in December and FINA is now seeking a new host.
Other Olympic medalists in attendance included figure skaters Victoria Sinitsina, Nikita Katsalapov, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov; cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov and rhythmic gymnastics twin sisters Dina and Arina Averina. Bolshunov won a gold medal at the recent Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, while Tarasova and Morozov won silver in pairs figure skating and Sinitsina and Katsalapov won bronze in ice dancing.
Most of the athletes were pictured wearing jackets with a “Z” on the chest. The letter is not part of the Russian alphabet but has become a symbol of support for Russian troops. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak is facing a disciplinary hearing for wearing a “Z” symbol on the podium next to a Ukrainian competitor. The athletes stood on stage as the national anthem was played in an apparent reference to how Russians at last year’s Summer Games in Tokyo and this year’s Winter Games did not have the anthem at their ceremonies in the fallout from years of doping disputes.
Russia hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 but has been a lightning rod in the Olympic movement because of its repeated drug scandals involving the country’s athletes. Russia recently finished competing in the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing under the guise of the Russian Olympic Committee because of widespread drug scandals involving the country’s athletes dating through the past decade.
Russia breached the Olympic Truce by invading Ukraine on Thursday, four days after the closing ceremony of the Winter Games in Beijing. It was the third Russian breach of the Olympic Truce in 14 years. Russia invaded Georgia during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and annexed Crimea shortly after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“Not so long ago we supported them in this difficult Olympic season, now they support the war against us and our country,” Ukrainian ice dancer Oleksandra Nazarova wrote on Instagram last week with a picture of four Russian skaters taking part in the rally. Nazarova and partner Maksym Nikitin are from Kharkiv, the mostly Russian-speaking city in northeastern Ukraine which has been subjected to intense bombardments by Russian forces.
Russia Loses Appeal of FIFA World Cup Ban
The Court of Arbitration for Sport dealt Russia another off-field rejection on Friday, denying its appeal against FIFA that freezes the men’s national team out of next week’s 2022 World Cup qualifying playoffs.
CAS dismissed the Russian soccer federation’s bid for an urgent interim ruling to freeze the ban pending a full appeal, which could come within weeks. The Russian soccer federation could still get the ban overturned before another round of international games in June and a Russian victory could force this month’s playoffs to be replayed.
Russian athletes have been banned from competing in multiple sports because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Belarusian athletes have also been banned because their country has been an ally of Russia.
FIFA has reset the playoff qualifying schedule for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Poland will receive a bye to its playoff final against either Sweden or the Czech Republic. Each of the three countries had said it would refuse to play Russia before FIFA announced it was banning the Russian team, which hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup and reached the knockout round stages.
FIFA’s decision is the first ban of a country since 1992, when FIFA and UEFA removed Yugoslavia from its competitions following United Nations sanctions imposed when war broke out in the Balkans. FIFA also announced that the Ukraine’s playoff semifinal against Scotland will be postponed until June. The winner of that game would play either Wales or Austria.
CAS earlier this week denied Russia’s appeal against UEFA that banned its club teams and its women’s national team from its competitions including the Europa League, in which Spartak Moscow had advanced to the Round of 16, and the Women’s Euro 2022 competition. Spartak’s opponent in the round of 16, German club Leipzig, was given a bye to the quarterfinals. Russian under-21 and youth national teams for men and women were also scheduled to play European Championship qualifying games in the weeks ahead before the appeal was denied.
Sebastian Coe: International Sports Must Keep Russia Banned
Olympic great Sebastian Coe, now the president of World Athletics, said the current international sports ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes must remain in place for as long as needed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.
Coe spoke four days before the start of the world indoor championships in Serbia, an event in which both Russians and Belarusians have been excluded.
“There’s not a single sports federation out there that naturally wants to exclude teams or individuals. That’s not something that we came into the sport for,” Coe said during a video conference call. “But I think we have to recognize that this is such a game changer. And, yes, it will set precedents.”
Athletes and teams from Russia and Belarus have been kicked out of dozens of sports since Russian forces invaded Ukraine last month, with some soldiers entering via Belarus. The biggest events to be immediately impacted by the decision to ban Russians and Belarusians include the upcoming track championships, the figure skating world championships and soccer.
The bans from soccer, which include the Russian national team from World Cup qualifying and Russian club Spartak Moscow from the Europa League competition, have been challenged by the Football Union of Russia. The first appeal rulings are expected this week from the Court of Arbitration for Sport — the highest sports court in the world.
Coe’s stance is noteworthy on multiple levels. As the president of World Athletics, he has a powerful voice within the Olympic and international sports movement — bolstered by his background running the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in London and as an Olympian who won gold medals in the 1,500 meters in both the 1980 and 1984 Games — events that both had large-scale boycotts, led by the U.S. in 1980 and by the Soviet Union in 1984.
“We absolutely accept that this will set precedents and those precedents will have to be faced individually and sequentially and they will be with us for years,” Coe said. “We haven’t made this easy on ourselves but it is still the right decision. You cannot have aggressor nations, where you have so altered the landscape for the integrity of competition being untouched, while the actions of their governments have so influenced the integrity of sport elsewhere.”
Track and field had previously been the hardest on Russians following the country’s state-sponsored doping scandal dating to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russians have to be individually vetted in order to compete in international track events. The Russian track federation has been banned since 2015.
“I don’t have a problem with (banning Russians) because that’s what we’ve done in our sport,” Coe said. “I don’t see why that should be different in any other sport if you’re making that judgement on the integrity of the sport … The impact is across the board. So they are going to need to remain really firm on this and do exactly what we’ve done.”
Coe’s statement on Monday comes after the U.S. State Department last week issued a statement — supported by 37 other countries — calling for Russia and Belarus to be banned from hosting, bidding or being awarded any international sporting events.
“Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war of choice against Ukraine, enabled by the Belarusian government, is abhorrent and a flagrant breach of its international obligations,” the statement opens. “Respect for human rights and peaceful relations between nations form the foundation of international sport.”
The State Department also called for “individual athletes selected by Russia and Belarus, administrators and teams representing the Russian or Belarusian state should be banned from competing in other countries, including those representing bodies, cities or brands that are effectively representing Russia or Belarus, such as major football clubs.”
The Russian Olympic Committee, meanwhile, made an urgent appeal Friday to overturn a ban on its athletes competing at a European winter sports festival in Finland scheduled to start March 20. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it was setting a timetable for the case ahead of the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival as the ROC appeal challenges a March 2 decision by the executive committee of the European Olympic Committees to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes because of the war in Ukraine.
How long the international sports ban exists for Russia is up for debate, although some Olympic observers expect the country’s athletes to be allowed into the next Games — 2024 in Paris — should military action end soon. Olympic historian Bill Mallon predicted Russia may take sporting matters into its own hands should the ban be a lengthy one, telling The Associated Press “I think they’re going to end up doing a breakaway Olympics if they continue to be banned for very long.”
The international sports world has almost unanimously come out in support of the Ukraine and banned Russia and Belarussian athlete from participating in international competitions, including the ongoing Paralympic Winter Games in Bejing. The State Department said “we also welcome the International Paralympic Committee’s decision to prevent Russia’s and Belarus’ athletes from competing in the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing. These restrictions should be in place until cooperation under the fundamental principles of international law has become possible again.”
Ukraine’s Paralympians and team officials made an appeal for peace during the Winter Games in Beijing, which concluded Sunday. The 20 person delegation, led by Ukraine Paralympic Committee President Valerii Sushkevych, held a banner reading “peace for all” with a one-minute moment of silence.
“This one minute is about the thousands of people, including children and others with disabilities, back in Ukraine,” said Sushkevych. “If mankind is civilized, then this war must be stopped. People, women and children deserve to live, not die.”
International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, in comments at the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, called on world authorities to promote peace while admitting “I am horrified at what is taking place in the world right now,” referencing Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine that led to the international sports world excommunicating Russian and Belarussian athletes from competition.
The IPC originally announced that Russian and Belarussian athletes could compete as “neutral athletes,” but changed course following mounting pressure from other countries, including some that threatened to withdraw if the decision wasn’t reversed. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee was among those calling for a total ban of Russian and Belarussian athletes and officials in world sport, including the Paralympics.
“As the world watches in horror while Russia brazenly attacks the innocent people and athletes of Ukraine, this is the only acceptable action to be taken until peace has been restored,” the USOPC’s statement read.
The IPC’s move meant 83 Para athletes from Russia and Belarus were sent home after arriving in Beijing. Russian athletes had already been slated to compete as RPC, short for Russian Paralympic Committee, as punishment for the state-sponsored doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“I must begin with a message of peace as the leader of an organization with inclusion at its core, where diversity is celebrated and differences embraced,” Parsons said at the Opening Ceremony. The live broadcast on Chinese state TV did not translate Parsons’ condemnation of war and and then lowered the volume of his remarks in English for a while. The Chinese government has refrained from criticizing the invasion and opposed the U.S., European and other sanctions imposed on Russia.
Capitals Condemn Invasion, Give ‘Full Support’ to Ovechkin
The Washington Capitals, home to the biggest NHL star from Russia in Alex Ovechkin, released a statement on Tuesday that condemned Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine while also offering “full support of our Russian players and their families overseas,” hours before Ovechkin was roundly booed by Calgary Flames fans after moving into a tie for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list.
“Monumental Sports & Entertainment and the Washington Capitals join the National Hockey League in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the loss of innocent life. We urge and hope for a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible,” the Capitals said, adding that for their Russian players, “we realize they are being put in difficult situations and stand by to offer our assistance to them and their families.”
Ovechkin is the most well-known Capitals player from Russia but the team also has forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goalie Ilya Samsonov.
Ovechkin tied Jaromir Jagr with 766 career goals in Washington’s 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night despite being booed just about every time he touched the puck. Calgary projected the Ukrainian flag on the ice during a game against the Montreal Canadiens last week and the Ukrainian national anthem was performed prior to Monday’s game between the Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
Ovechkin campaigned in 2017 on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin by starting a social media movement called Putin Team and Instagram profile photo features him posing with Putin. Ovechkin was harshly criticized by former NHL goalie Dominik Hasek after the invasion started.
Ovechkin has spoken about the Russian invasion just once since it happened, saying on February 25 “please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — we have to live in peace,” adding “obviously, it’s a hard situation. I have lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine, and it’s hard to see the war. I hope soon it’s going to be over and there’s going to be peace in the whole world.”
There are aprooximately 40 Russia-born players in the NHL, which earlier this week suspended its dealings with the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League. The league already announced “we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL” and suspended all relationships with business partners in Russia.
Russian Gymnast Faces Ban for Pro-Invasion Symbol
A Russian gymnast will be investigated by the International Gymnastics Federation after wearing a symbol supporting the invasion of the Ukraine on his uniform during a World Cup event in Qatar over the weekend during the medal ceremony — at an event won by a Ukrainian.
Ivan Kuliak taped a “Z” symbol seen on Russian tanks and military vehicles in Ukraine to his vest for a medal ceremony for parallel bars, won by Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun.
The International Gymnastics Federation pledged to ask its independent integrity unit to investigate. Kuliak faces a ban under the FIG disciplinary code that allows gymnasts to be punished for acts that “behave in an offensive way,” “damage the image of gymnastics” or “demonstrate anti-sport behavior.”
Kuliak was able to compete in Qatar because the exclusion of all gymnasts and officials from Russia and Belarus did not take effect until Monday. The Russian flag was already barred from his uniform.
Special Olympics Cancels 2023 World Winter Games in Russia
Special Olympics International has announced it will not hold the 2023 World Winter Games, which had been scheduled for January 2023 in Kazan, Russia.
In announcing the cancellation, the organization said its ability to protect the effectiveness of Special Olympics and the safety of its athletes had been compromised by the events taking place in Ukraine.
“We can no longer ensure the effectiveness of the World Winter Games in Kazan or the safety of our athletes and community,” Special Olympics said in a statement. “The horrific violence in Ukraine, the extensive sanctions implemented by the international community, and the uncertainty and fear being experienced around the world make it impossible to proceed. We are devastated by the fear and destruction being experienced by our athletes and community in Ukraine. Persons with an intellectual disability are suffering disproportionately, unfairly, and tragically in this war, as they have during the pandemic. We join our voices to millions around the world demanding peace and an end to violence immediately.
This cancellation is devastating to us, to our athletes in Ukraine, to our athletes in Russia, and to our athletes around the world who have trained for years to compete. We are grateful to people of good will within Russia and around the world who worked for years to make these Games a success and while the Games will not take place, we commit ourselves to continue working with the Special Olympics Program there now and in the future.”
Ironman Cancels Race in Russia, Bans Russian Athletes at Championships
The Ironman Group has canceled the 2022 Ironman 70.3 St. Petersburg triathlon scheduled to take place on July 17 in Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine. In addition, the organization said it will disallow participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2022 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah, and at two Ironman World Championship events taking place in St. George and in Kona, Hawaii.
Russian and Belarusian professional athletes will also be ineligible to race at any 2022 Ironman triathlon events, including one this weekend in Dubai. No age group participants will be allowed to compete under the Russian or Belarusian flag at any Ironman events in 2022.
“While we recognize the difficult situation created for Russian and Belarusian athletes by these steps, we believe these are necessary to protect the integrity of our events,” the company said in a statement.
World Federations React to Russia With Anger
International federations throughout the sports world have continued to take action against Russia in the wake of its invasion of the Ukraine last week, one day after the International Olympic Committee called for a ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes and officials from events to “protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants” while FIFA followed shortly after by banning Russia from a 2022 World Cup qualifying playoff.
The International Skating Union said Tuesday that no athletes from Russia or Belarus would be invited or allowed to participate ahead of this month’s world championships in France, joining decisions to ban Russia by FIFA and the International Ice Hockey Federation from its upcoming events. The International Volleyball Federation also stripped Russia of hosting the men’s world championships. World Athletics also will exclude all athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus “from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future, with immediate effect.”
The world governing body for swimming, FINA, said the World Junior Championships scheduled for August in Kazan, Russia, would be moved to a new host country and the 2014 FINA Order awarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been withdrawn. FINA did say “Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams,” at its events. The International Ski Federation has also decided to allow Russians to compete, but the Norwegian Ski Federation said Tuesday it would block Russians from upcoming World Cup events in its country.
The IOC said it acted “with a heavy heart” but the impact of war on Ukrainian sports was front of mind. Russia breached the Olympic Truce by invading Ukraine on Thursday, four days after the closing ceremony of the Winter Games in Beijing. It was the third Russian breach of the Olympic Truce in 14 years. Russia invaded Georgia during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and annexed Crimea shortly after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The IOC also withdrew the Olympic Order it gave Vladimir Putin in 2001. Russia hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 but has been a lightning rod in the Olympic movement because of its repeated drug scandals involving the country’s athletes. Russia recently finished competing in the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing under the guise of the Russian Olympic Committee because of widespread drug scandals involving the country’s athletes dating through the past decade.
World Taekwondo has stripped Putin of his honorary taekwondo black, citing its motto of “Peace is more precious than triumph,” and condemned the Russian military action in Ukraine, saying the “brutal attacks on innocent lives” violated the sport’s values of respect and tolerance. It added that it would join the International Olympic Committee in banning the Russian flag and anthem at its events. The decision comes after the International Judo Federation said Sunday it would suspend Putin’s status as honorary president and ambassador.
And World Triathlon said Tuesday that it, too, will not to allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes or officials in all international competitions or official events. The decision will be reviewed by the executive board at its monthly meetings in accordance with how the situation evolves. World Triathlon had previously suspended the Russian Triathlon Federation due to the high number of doping cases in December 2021 for one year and no events were permitted to take place in the country in 2022.
World Games Bans Russian, Belarussian Athletes
The Board of Directors of The World Games 2022 Birmingham Organizing Committee has voted to ban athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus from participating in The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama, this July.
“This decision is in keeping with the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board recommendation earlier this morning,” the board of directors said in a statement. The World Games 2022, which are scheduled from July 7–17, is organized with the support of the International Olympic Committee.
OVG Says No to Business With Russia
Oak View Group the global venue development, advisory, and investment company that has brought multiple venues online in the past year, has released the following statement regarding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine:
“In light of the tragic conflict rapidly unfolding in Ukraine, Oak View Group has pledged to not do business in or with Russia, nor will we serve Russian brands in any of our venues on a global basis, effective immediately. We stand with the people of Ukraine, we condemn the actions of Russia, and we hope our stance inspires others in our industry to take action where they can.”
Climate Pledge Arena, which is owned and operated by OVG, lit up Seattle Center on Saturday night in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
UEFA Moves to Paris
Paris will stage the 2022 Champions League final at the Stade de France after UEFA’s decision. The venue hosted the Champions League final in 2006 and is home to a contender for this year’s title in Paris-Saint Germain. The stripping of St. Petersburg as host came from an extraordinary meeting of UEFA’s Executive Committee; it is the second year in a row that St. Petersburg lost hosting rights to the Champions League final after it was postponed in 2021 because of the pandemic and later moved to Portugal.
F1 Postpones Race
F1 Chief Executive Officer Stefano Domenicali and the bosses of the 10 teams discussed the status of the September 25 race in Sochi on Thursday evening before announcing its postponement on Friday morning. The Russian Grand Prix was added to the F1 calendar in 2014 following a deal struck between Vladimir Putin and former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. Putin handed out trophies the top three finishers in 2014 and 2015.
An F1 statement said: “We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.”
Winter Events Moved
The International Ski Federation will either move or cancel five World Cup events scheduled to be held in Russia, saying “FIS has decided that in the interest of the safety of all participants and to maintain the integrity of the World Cup, that all remaining World Cup events scheduled to take place in Russia between now and the end of the 2021-22 season will be cancelled or moved to another location.”