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US, allies urge suspension of Russia from sport federations

US, allies urge suspension of Russia from sport federations
Speedskaters representing Russian Olympic Committee work out during a practice session at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. (File photo: AP/Jeff Roberson)

WASHINGTON: The United States and a range of allies called on Tuesday (Jul 5) for Russian and Belarusian national governing bodies of sports to be suspended from international sport federations, due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian embassy in the United States described the move as "Russophobic" and said "sports should stay out of politics."

"Using it as an instrument to exert pressure and settle scores directly violates the basic principles of the Olympic movement and is contrary to the spirit of competitiveness as well as healthy competition," it said in a Facebook post.

The Russian response came hours after the US State Department issued the joint statement with allies, in which they also urged sports organisations to consider suspending the broadcasting of competitions into Russia and Belarus.

Other signatories included Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea. China, India and states in Latin America and Africa were among countries that were not listed as signatories.

The joint statement said in cases where sports organisations permit athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete, it should be made clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states. The use of official Russian and Belarusian flags, emblems and anthems should be prohibited.

In March, Washington and its partners had said Russia and Belarus should not be permitted to host, bid for or be awarded any international sporting events.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a number of sporting bodies have banned athletes representing Russia. FIFA and UEFA suspended Russia's national teams and clubs from international football days after the Feb 24 invasion began.

Moscow calls its action in Ukraine a "special military operation". Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, said on Sunday the ex-Soviet state stood fully behind Russia in its military drive in Ukraine as part of its longstanding commitment to a "union state" with Moscow.

Source: Reuters/gr

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