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Russia, Belarus athletes barred from world championships as more sports take action

Legends Race biathlon festival near Minsk, Belarus

MINSK REGION, BELARUS - FEBRUARY 18, 2019: Spectators with national flags of Belarus and Russia during the Legends Race biathlon festival at the Raubichi Olympic Centre in Ostroshitsky Gorodok, Minsk Region. Natalia Fedosenko/TASS (Photo by Natalia FedosenkoTASS via Getty Images)

Natalia Fedosenko/TASS

Athletes from Russia and Belarus are barred from all top-level international skiing, skating and track and field events until further notice, as more sports federations took action Tuesday following International Olympic Committee board recommendations.

The International Skating Union (ISU) said it followed the IOC Executive Board recommendations to bar athletes from those two countries “in order to protect the integrity of ice skating competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”

As things stand, Russia and Belarus will have no representation at the most storied speed skating competition, the annual world allround championships, along with the world sprint championships, that begin Thursday in Norway.

The nations will also miss the world short track speed skating championships in two weeks and the world figure skating championships in three weeks if the sanction is not lifted by then.

The Russian Olympic Committee won the most figure skating medals at last month’s Olympics, including gold and silver in women’s singles and gold in the team event, the latter results pending Kamila Valieva‘s doping case.

Later Tuesday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced that no athletes from Russia or Belarus will participate in any of its events through the end of this season.

That includes Alpine skiing’s World Cup, which has three weeks left, and the prestigious Holmenkollen Festival in Norway for cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined that starts Wednesday.

World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, announced that Russia and Belarus athletes are barred from its competitions “for the foreseeable future.” The world indoor championships are in two weeks in Serbia.

“Anyone who knows me will understand that imposing sanctions on athletes because of the actions of their government goes against the grain,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in a press release. “I have railed against the practice of politicians targeting athletes and sport to make political points when other sectors continue about their business. This is different as governments, business and other international organizations have imposed sanctions and measures against Russia across all sectors. Sport has to step up and join these efforts to end this war and restore peace. We cannot and should not sit this one out.”

FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, also announced an “until further notice” ban on Russia.

The International Tennis Federation banned Russia and Belarus from its major team events this year -- the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup. Russia won both events last year. Players from Russia and Belarus can still compete individually on the ATP and WTA Tours and at Grand Slams, but not under the name or flag of their nations until further notice.

FINA, the international federation for aquatics sports including swimming, diving and water polo, announced that Russia and Belarus athletes can compete strictly as neutral athletes or teams without national symbols, colors, flags and anthems until further notice.

Russian athletes are already banned from competing under the Russian flag at major international competitions into December due to the nation’s doping violations, but they have been able to compete as neutral athletes or under the names of the Russian Olympic Committee or their national federations. The FINA ruling extends to international competitions not already part of the previous sanctions.

The international volleyball federation announced it stripped St. Petersburg, Russia, as host of its men’s world championship this August and September.

On Monday, sports including soccer, ice hockey, curling and rugby announced plans to bar athletes from Russia, and in some cases Belarus.

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