World Judo Championships: Ukrainian athletes to boycott over Russian participation concerns

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Russia's Daria Mezhetskaia competes in Tokyo
Russian athletes won three bronze medals in Judo at Tokyo 2020

Ukrainian athletes will boycott this month’s World Judo Championships in Qatar over concerns about Russian and Belarussian participation.

The International Judo Federation decided to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete as neutrals.

The decision will allow judokas from those countries to participate in qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Games.

“We have decided not to participate in the World Championships,” the Ukrainian Judo Federation said on Monday.

Last month, the International Olympic Committee recommended Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete under a neutral flag, but it has yet to make a decision on Paris 2024.

The IOC also recommended athletes and support personnel who actively support the war in Ukraine, or who are contracted to the military, should not be permitted to compete.

However, the UJF alleged that a number of Russian judoka registered for the World Judo Championships, which take place between 7 and 14 May, are “active servicemen”.

“We do not see here neutrality, equal conditions and a ‘bridge to peace’, as stated in the IJF Resolution on the participation of Russian and Belarusian teams in the World Championships in Doha,” the UJF said.

“We see here a decision that contradicts the latest recommendations of the International Olympic Committee.

“We are disappointed with the decision of the International Judo Federation.”

The IJF said said it has enlisted an independent company to perform background checks on Russian and Belarussian athletes with “specific reference to possible war propaganda”.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the IJF removed Russian President Vladimir Putin from his position as honorary president and cancelled a Grand Slam event in Kazan, Russia.

On Saturday, the International Canoe Federation said Russian and Belarussian athletes “who are not in support of their State’s actions in Ukraine” can return to competition as neutrals.

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