Badminton: World body bans athletes from Russia and Belarus

The BWF said the enforced non-participation of athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus would commence at the German Open. PHOTO: PEXELS

(REUTERS, AFP) - The world governing body for badminton said on Tuesday (March 1) that players from Russia and Belarus would be banned from international tournaments from next week, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Since the start of what Russian President Vladimir Putin has called "a special military operation" last week, sports bodies across the world have already moved against Russia and Belarus by refusing to host or play against teams from the countries.

The Badminton World Federation's (BWF) move comes a day after it cancelled tournaments in Russia and Belarus and is in line with recommendations made by the International Olympic Committee executive board.

The BWF said the enforced non-participation of athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus would commence at the German Open from March 8-13.

A small number of Russian athletes competing in two back-to-back international Para badminton tournaments in Spain will be allowed to participate as they have already arrived on location, the BWF said.

"These players, however, will compete as neutral athletes, with no national flags or anthems," it said.

Swimming's world governing body Fina, which on Monday called off the World Junior Swimming Championships that were scheduled for August in Kazan, Russia, said on Tueday that Russian and Belarusian athletes would now compete as neutral athletes or neutral teams.

"No national symbols, colours, flags should be displayed or anthems should be played, in international aquatics events which are not already part of the respective World Anti-Doping Agency sanctions for Russia," Fina said.

It added that the Fina Order awarded to Mr Putin in 2014 has been withdrawn. Earlier, he had his honorary black belt in taekwondo revoked by the sport's international governing body as well, two days after he was suspended as honorary president of the International Judo Federation.

The International Skating Union has also barred Russian and Belarus ice skaters from all competitions on Tuesday.

"The ISU Council... agreed that with immediate effect and until further notice, no skaters belonging to the ISU members in Russia and Belarus shall be invited or allowed to participate in international ice skating competitions," the body said in a statement.

Russia is a powerhouse in ice skating most recently winning six medals - two of them gold - at the Beijing Winter Olympics. The blanket ban on athletes competing also includes short track and speed skating.

The ISU ban follows on the heels of the International Volleyball Federation on Tuesday stripping Russia of the right to host the men's World Championships in August and September this year.

Follow The Straits Times' live coverage on the Ukraine crisis here.

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