By Samarth Jani
The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused Russia to be suspended from many sports events, which has led many Russian athletes to start using their voices and platforms to speak up against the war.
This past month, the world has seen the biggest sporting corporations and organizations stand in solidarity with Ukraine. On March 1, 2022, the International Paralympic Committee initially allowed athletes to compete as neutrals under the Paralympic flag and the Paralympic anthem; this led to multiple teams threatening the IPC that they would not compete. As a result, a statement was made by the IPC President, Andrew Parson, on March 2. His statement said that Russian athletes “should not be viewed as aggressors” and that the IPC governing board did not have the authority to ban Russian athletes. In a turn of events, the IPC stated that Russian athletes would be barred from participating in the 2022 Winter Paralympics, citing many National Paralympic Committees’ threats to not compete as the reason. This call led to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) suggestion to not allow Russia to compete in any other sporting events.
On February 28, 2022, FIFA & UEFA made a joint statement announcing that Russian teams would be suspended from their competitions until further notice. Internationally, this meant that Russia would not be able to play their World Cup playoff against Poland that was scheduled for March 24. Presidents from both organizations said, “Football [soccer] is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine.”
“I think it is good that these organizations are taking a stand. Nothing will happen if large companies like these do not do anything to help make an impact,” junior Evelyn Joseph said.
Other sports organizations that have implemented the same type of suspension include the World Athletics Council, the International Tennis Federation and the International Basketball Federation.
Source from PetaPixel
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev uses his platform to speak out against his home country taking up war in Ukraine.
The invasion of Ukraine has also resulted in Russian athletes using their voices to speak out against war and Vladimir Putin’s actions. After winning a semi-final match at the Dubai Tennis Championships, Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev wrote, “No war please” on an ESPN camera. In a press conference he said, “You realize how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what and to be united.”
On the other hand, a handful of Russian athletes have come under fire for attending a rally supporting Vladimir Putin. Olympic medalists ranging from cross-country skiers, gymnasts, figure skaters and swimmers were attending a pro-Putin rally and as a result many athletes faced major backlash, not only from the public, but from sports organizations and their sponsors. For instance, Olympic champion swimmer Yevgeny Rylov was put under investigation by the sport’s governing body FINA and lost his endorsement deal with Speedo. It was reported that most of the athletes wore jackets with the letter “Z” which became a symbol of support for Russian troops in Ukraine.
In an effort to preserve their independence from Russia, Ukrainian athletes have joined the army. Less than two weeks after competing in the Winter Olympics, biathlon champion Dmytro Podruchnyi joined the National Guard of Ukraine and is serving in his hometown. Tennis player Serhiy Stakhovskiy, boxing champion Vasyl Lomachenko and heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk are all examples of other athletes who have enlisted as well, many posting photos carrying rifles and in military uniforms. Other Ukrainian athletes have been using their platform to speak out against Russia’s decision to invade. An 18-year-old figure skater Olga Mikutina posted photos of the damage done to her hometown of Kharkiv and called for “Russian rebellion” against Putin.
“It is truly heartbreaking to see that it has come to this, but it is also incredibly admirable to see these athletes fight for their country,” junior Madeline Bangsgopaul said.