— Published 19 April 2023

Russians will not take the wave

A new international federation of a summer Olympic sport has taken a stand on the issue of a back for Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions. It has sided with the no camp. The agency TASS reports that the International Surfing Association (ISA) has decided to extend the suspension of athletes from the two countries at war with Ukraine. It justifies its decision, revealed in a statement, by the absence in its statutes of a provision on the participation of surfers under neutral flag. “The ISA noted the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Executive Board recommendation on 28 March 2023 to enable International Sports Federations to implement their own policies regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian competitors as neutral athletes in events under specific conditions,” details the press release. This IOC recommendation on neutral athletes does not apply to team sports nor team events. ISA events are competitions with qualified teams who are entered by their National Surfing Federations. There is no provision in the ISA Rule Book for the participation of individuals outside their national teams, including for World Surfing Games.” In practice, the decision of the ISA already closes for the Russians and Belarusians the door of the Games of Paris 2024, where surfing will be additional sport before integrating more durably the Olympic program at the Games of Los Angeles 2028. The position of the ISA joins that of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), which recently announced to extend the suspension of the Russian and Belarussian riders for lack of having succeeded in determining credible and relevant criteria of neutrality.