Written by: Jeonghyeon
Edited by: Jagat
Visual by: Zoe
This February 24th, the world was shocked with the news that President Vladimir Putin has authorized “a special military operation” against Ukraine to eliminate a “serious threat” (Polina Nikolskaya & Andrew Osborn). Just three months after Russia began amassing military forces on their border with Ukraine the Russian military pushed forward, capturing large amounts of land in a matter of a few weeks.
Following this incident, many athletes competing under the Russian flag have been unable to compete in championships across the world, many sports teams and athletes have been cutting sponsorship ties with Russian companies, sporting events are relocating from Russian venues, and people around the world have begun spreading support for Ukraine and its people.
Here are some of the various measures taken by sports organizations against Russian athletes, sponsors, and sporting venues.
Russian football teams and national teams have been suspended from all competitions by FIFA and UEFA. The Russian men’s football team will no longer be participating in the World Cup play-off matches, and Russian football club Spartak Moscow have been removed from the Europa league.
Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, stated that “FIFA condemns the use of force by Russia in Ukraine and any type of violence to resolve conflicts,” and football club Manchester United has terminated its sponsorship deal with Russia’s national airline Aeroflot.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has suspended the Russian Tennis Federation and Belarus Tennis Federation for their involvement in the invasion from participating in the ITF team competition. Instead, Russian and Belarusian individuals will only be able to participate in ITF events as individuals. In addition to this, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) have stated that Russian and Belarusian athletes will still be allowed to compete, as long as they do not compete under the Russian or Belarusian flag.
Moreover, the ITF, WTA, and the ATP have canceled all events such as the 2022 Kremlin Cup taking place in Moscow.
F1 has canceled its Russian Grand Prix scheduled to be held later in September as they stated it was “impossible” to hold the race under the “current circumstances” (BBC, 2022). Haas F1 Team has, rather hastily, also terminated their contract with Nikita Mazepin, a Russian driver and son of the CEO of previous title sponsor Uralkali. Following this termination, Mazepin has openly criticized the team for this decision, and has stated that he “does not want to be at a team that doesn’t want me.” (Sky Sports, 2022)
Similar to previously listed tennis associations, F1 has stated that Russian and Belarusian drivers will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
On the other hand, Ukrainian athletes have been pushing through their fear and worry. Despite being away from their family, sick with anxiety and unease, Ukraine’s national Paralympics team managed to win 28 medals throughout the first 8 days of the Beijing 2022 Paralympics, with 10 of them being prestigious gold medals.
Some brave Ukrainian athletes have decided to return to their home country and resist the Russian invasion. This is the case of three-time Olympian and world champion Dmytro Pldruchnyi, who has transitioned from competing at the Beijing Olympics to wearing a military uniform and helmet in less than two weeks.
Former professional tennis player Serhy Stakhovsky, former boxing world champion Vasyl Lomachenko, and world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, are other examples of these courageous athletes fighting for their country.
Regardless of these weary times, these Ukrainian athletes are steeling their courage and are sending a powerful message to millions of people around the world: that this invasion is not right.
“Ukraine Crisis: Which Sports Have Banned Russian Athletes?” BBC Sport, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/sport/60568139.
Person, & Andrew Osborn, P. N. (2022, February 24). Russia’s Putin authorises ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine. Reuters. Retrieved March 19, 2022, from https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russias-putin-authorises-military-operations-donbass-domestic-media-2022-02-24/.
Campbell, Charlie. “How the Sports World Is Responding to Russia’s Ukraine Invasion.” Time, Time, 25 Feb. 2022, https://time.com/6151390/sports-russia-ukraine-f1-football/.
Lee, Chang W., and David Waldstein. “How Ukrainian Paralympians Pushed through Fear and Worry.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/12/sports/olympics/ukraine-paralympics-beijing-russia-war.html. ABC News, ABC News Network, https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/ukrainian-athletes-join-military-russian-invasion-83201031.