— Published 3 March 2022

The Russians will be able to fight

The International Judo Federation (IJF) took its time before announcing its position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Without much surprise, it chose the camp of the moderates. The body chaired by Marius Vizer decided to cancel all its competitions in Russia, including the Grand Slam tournament in Kazan, scheduled for 20-22 May. But it will allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the events under the cover of neutrality. They will compete under the IJF colours. The IJF explained in a press release: “As sporting events and sport itself promote peace and solidarity worldwide, we consider that those athletes who participate in international sporting events are promoting peace and international solidarity. On this basis, the global decision to sanction all Russian athletes, regardless of the different opinions many have expressed, is not considered to be justified. Any radical decision to obstruct the participation of athletes in sporting competitions would only continue the escalation of violence and nurture the feeling of injustice for those athletes who did not participate in any decision regarding the conflict. We cannot condemn the athletes for what is happening. Therefore, in line with the Olympic Charter and its fundamental principles, as the IJF did in the past during other difficult conflicts between certain states and nations, we will provide the Russian athletes with the opportunity to participate in IJF events only under the IJF flag, logo and anthem. Therefore, we can continue to guide all judo athletes from Russia in an appropriate direction and keep them far from any possibility to choose a path against their moral principles, taking into consideration the combat profile of our sport as well as its values. We encourage Russian athletes to pursue a dialogue with their judoka friends worldwide, to travel and to promote, at home and away, the Olympic values and the judo principles of mutual aid and prosperity.”