Ukraine refuses to participate in first Olympic Qualification in Ulaanbaatar
After the indignation of the Ukrainian judokas came the more formal reaction of their federation. In a statement issued on June 14, the Ukrainian Judo Federation announced that its national team would refuse to participate in any IJF sporting event as long as the Russian and Belarusian national teams took part in the competitions.
In this message, the president of the Ukrainian federation Mykhailo Koshliak highlights in particular the financing of the Russian and Belarusian national teams, as well as their athletes, by the ministries of Sports and Defense of the two countries. "After the beginning of the war, the International Olympic Committee gave the recommendation to all the international Olympic federations to suspend the participation of the representatives of Russia and Belarus in the competitions, in any way", he adds in this communiqué, intended for the presidents of the IJF and the European Judo Union.
Ukraine's decision was relayed by world champions Daria Bilodid and Georgii Zantaraia on their social networks. “All the values of judo are what we teach our children! And these are not just beautiful slogans, it is a moral code and a way of life for all judokas in the world. It cannot be possible that IJF allows Russian athletes to participate in the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix, half of whom serve in the armed forces”, specified Georgii Zantaraia, who had already announced that he was ready to give up to all his titles, including that of world champion obtained in 2009.
Zantaraia: “In case of the message I wrote a few days ago, I want to emphasize that judo is much more than just a sport for me. Extremely important for me to be surrounded not just by professional athletes, even by people who support my country, especially during the war!
I believe that the Judo Federation of Ukraine has made right decision to abandon all events organized by the International Judo Federation!”
As a reminder, on June 10, the International Judo Federation announced the possibility for Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in the competitions it organizes. Indeed, while, since the beginning of the war, the judokas of the two countries had chosen not to participate in the Judo World Tour events, certain athletes of the Russian judo federation registered for the Grand Slam of Ulaanbaatar. (June 24-26).
The IJF responded to the letter:
Marius L Vizer: "We are certainly against the war, but also against hate. Young people, and especially athletes, must be role models for their generations and for the generations to come. Athletes cannot be held responsible for the decisions of some leaders, especially in a context where they chose to compete, instead of going to war. Sport means friendship, unity, solidarity, and peace.
In Judo, we will not encourage division and hate. We must live together now and in the future. No negative force should be allowed to divide a family like the Judo Family and moreover, I consider that we must be an example also for other communities.
We must be united in good times and in bad times. We cannot punish people who are not responsible for the deeds of others. This would mean to discriminate, and in our sport war, politics and discrimination have no place."