Ice skating, athletics are the latest to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes; tennis players cleared to compete individually-Sports News, Firstpost

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Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to continue to compete on the WTA and ATP tours and in Grand Slam tournaments, but their teams have been suspended from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.

Paris: Russia continued to pay a heavy sporting price for its invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday, frozen by a snowball sports roster with perhaps the most painful blows coming from ice skating and athletics.

Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to continue to compete on the WTA and ATP tours and in Grand Slam tournaments, but their teams have been suspended from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.

Russia, traditionally a powerhouse in figure skating – it won six medals at the Beijing Olympics, including two golds – has seen its skaters barred from all competitions.

This excludes them from the March World Championships which will be held in Montpellier, France.

Their track and field athletes, along with those from Belarus, joined them in being kicked out of this year’s world championships – indoors and outdoors – later on Tuesday.

It was not a decision taken lightly, with World Athletics chairman Sebastian Coe describing it as “going against the grain” to punish athletes, “but the sport must step up”.

Belarusian athletes are being punished as the country faces international condemnation for being used as a launching pad by Russian forces to attack neighboring Ukraine.

Both are major blows for Russia, which under President Vladimir Putin had used sport as a powerful force for its image, both globally and internally.

Under his presidency, it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi – although this was overshadowed by the state-sponsored doping scandal – and the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

On Monday, the governing bodies that oversee these sporting showpieces hit Russia hard.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged sports federations and organizers to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international events.

Hours later, FIFA expelled Russia from the 2022 World Cup as world football governing body and UEFA joined forces to expel Russian national teams and clubs from all international competitions.

Russian football suffered another blow on Tuesday when German sports equipment giant Adidas suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Federation.

Adidas achieved 2.9% of its turnover in 2020 in the “Russia, Ukraine and CIS” regions.

Tennis players escape ban

Russian female tennis players, including new men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev and Belarusian women’s world number three Aryna Sabalenka, will be allowed to continue competing in major individual events.

But they will not be able to play under the respective flags of their countries.

“A deep sense of distress, shock and sadness was felt throughout the tennis community following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week,” read a joint statement from the ATP, WTA, of the ITF and the organizers of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. .

Several top Russian tennis players have spoken out against the conflict in Ukraine.

Russia’s top-ranked player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has joined men’s tennis number six Andrey Rublev in criticizing the war.

Archive image of Russian tennis player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. AFP

“Stop the war, stop the violence,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

“Personal ambitions or political motives cannot justify violence. It takes away the future not only from us, but also from our children.”

Russia are Davis Cup holders but will not be able to defend their title later this year after being banned by the ITF from their team competitions.

Professional cycling teams and national teams from Russia and Belarus have also been suspended by the UCI.

But individual runners who race for teams based in other countries will be able to continue to compete.

Russia also lost the right to host the men’s volleyball world championships in August and September.

‘Give birth to life’

This follows UEFA depriving Saint Petersburg of hosting the Champions League final – European football’s premier club competition – and Formula 1 canceling the Russian Grand Prix last Friday. .

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) followed its fellow federations with a blanket ban on athletes, saying it had “strengthened its measures”. Just hours before it initially canceled BWF-sanctioned tournaments in Russia and Belarus.

Swimming was a rare bird to offer sanctuary to Russian and Belarusian swimmers, as the governing body FINA stopped banning them.

The FIA ​​has also said Russian drivers could continue to race in its sports, including F1, but under a neutral flag.

The Ukrainians will, despite the difficulties encountered during their travels, be present for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing on Friday.

“The Ukrainian national team will fly in full for the Paralympic Games,” the Ukrainian federation said in a tweet.

Amid all the gloom for Ukrainian sports stars, there was good news for Ukraine international midfielder Yevhen Shakhov – who plays in Greece – whose wife gave birth to a baby girl in Kyiv.

“The real heroes of our time. Heroes are not those who fight, but those who give birth to life. I love you very much,” the 31-year-old AEK Athens star posted on Instagram .

Manchester City’s Ukrainian left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko has been given the captain’s armband for the 2-0 FA Cup win at Peterborough.

Elsewhere, tennis player Dayana Yastremska, who fled her native Ukraine last week, saved two match points in an emotional win over Romania’s Ana Bogdan in Lyon.

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