Russian judoka will not compete at the World Judo Championships in Tashkent despite the International Judo Federation (IJF) being one of few Olympic International Federations allowing Russian athletes to appear in its events as neutrals.
Uzbekistan’s capital is due to host the World Championships from October 6 to 13.
Athletes from Belarus and Russia would be permitted to take part, as they did at the Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam because the IJF has stopped short of fully implementing an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation to ban athletes from the two outright over the war in Ukraine.
They may compete under the IJF flag, anthem and colours, but will not be travelling to Tashkent.
“We will not take part in the World Championships,” Russian Judo Federation President Vasily Anisimov told Russian state-run news agency TASS.
Ukraine boycotted the Grand Slam event in Ulaanbaatar over the presence of the Russians and had threatened to do the same for the World Championships.
Before then, Russian and Belarusian judoka had declined to participate as neutrals.
The IJF is an outlier among Olympic International Federations in its stance.
It has defended the decision as one giving “equal chances to all athletes, to rise above discrimination, politics, conflicts or any other non-sport related matter” and ensuring athletes “are not to be punished for issues which are out of their control.”
Ukraine had threatened to boycott the World Championships if Russians were allowed to compete.
“As long as Russia is waging war in Europe, destroying Ukraine, terrorizing our people, we will not go on tatami with them,” said President of the Judo Federation of Ukraine Mikhail Koshlyak, as reported by Ukrinform.
Russia competed under a neutral flag at the 2021 World Judo Championships in Budapest.
The team finished fifth after winning three medals, one of each colour, while a single bronze from Iakiv Khammo put Ukraine 15th overall on the medals table.
Russia’s name, flag, and anthem were banned from the 2021 World Championships under World Anti-Doping Agency sanctions imposed over the cover-up of a state-sponsored doping programme.
Those sanctions remain in place at major events such as World Championships until December 17 of this year.