— Published 27 June 2022

Ukraine does not want to cross paths with Russia

Unease in the world of judo. Ukraine has decided not to participate in international competitions until Russian athletes are excluded. Since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army last February, Russian judokas had stayed away from competitions. But more than 20 of them travelled to the Mongolian tournament, one of the Grand Slams on the world circuit, last weekend. The International Judo Federation (IJF) is one of the few bodies in the Olympic movement that did not follow the IOC’s recommendation to the letter. Although Russians are not allowed to compete in international competitions under their colours and flag, they can do so under the guise of neutrality. “Everyone who follows world sport understands that Russian athletes are a key part of that country’s aggressive propaganda policy,” wrote Ukrainian Judo Federation President Mykhailo Koshliak in an open letter to the IJF. When talking about Russia and sport, it is in no way possible to say that sport is outside of politics. According to Mykhailo Koshliak, no less than 11 of the 24 Russian judokas competing in the Mongolian tournament, the first stage of the qualification process for the Paris 2024 Games, are “active representatives of the Russian armed forces” and display military medals and ranks. At the top of the list is Madina Taimazova (pictured above), a bronze medallist at the Tokyo Games. She is a warrant officer in the Russian army. Embarrassed, the IJF defended its position in a press release from its director general, Vlad Marinescu. The International Judo Federation is against war, against any form of violence, as well as against hatred and discrimination,” said the body chaired by Marius Vizer. 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.