The Ukrainian government has barred its national sports teams from competing at international events which also include things like athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus.

The decree published by the Ministry of Youth and Sports follows opposition from Ukraine to efforts by the International Olympic Committee to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian competitors into events as neutrals with out national symbols.

It could stress worldwide sports bodies to opt for among admitting Russians and Belarusians or risking a Ukrainian boycott.

Right after Ukraine signaled final month it would seek to block its athletes from competing against Russians and Belarusians, the IOC mentioned any such move would “hurt only the Ukrainian athlete neighborhood.” The IOC did not instantly respond to a request for comment Friday.

The decree only refers to national group delegations and it was not clear if it would have an effect on person Ukrainian players on the men’s and women’s tennis tours, exactly where Russian and Belarusian players have continued playing as neutrals.

It was also unclear how the measure may have an effect on men’s soccer amid ongoing qualification for subsequent year’s European Championship. European soccer physique UEFA enables Belarus to compete, but not Russia. Ukraine and Belarus are playing in various qualifying groups and can not be drawn with each other in the playoffs.

The government choice drew criticism from Vladyslav Heraskevych, a skeleton racer who competed at final year’s Winter Olympics. “If the Ukrainian representatives are absent at the competitions, this indicates we absolutely abandon international sports platforms and enable Russia/Belarus to market their narratives and propaganda. This is a ‘white flag’ from the Ukrainian sports neighborhood,” he wrote on Twitter.

The IOC initially suggested that sports bodies exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes on security grounds final year, but now advocates reintegrating them as neutrals, arguing that a blanket ban is discriminatory. The IOC nevertheless recommends blocking Russians and Belarusians with ties to the military, and its recommendation only covers person, not group, competitions.

International sports federations are not obliged to implement the IOC’s suggestions and only some have set a deadline to admit neutral athletes from Russia or Belarus. The IOC is also however to announce a choice about the Paris Olympics.

Ukraine boycotted an Olympic judo qualifier final year when the sport’s governing physique permitted Russians, such as quite a few from the country’s military, to take portion as neutral athletes. Ukrainian officials have previously not ruled out boycotting the Paris Olympics rather than competing against Russians.

By Editor

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