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International

Russians Face More Sports Sanctions, But Not at Paralympics

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — With the exception of the upcoming Paralympics, Russian athletes were restricted from competing in more sporting events around the world on Wednesday.

Sports including biathlon and table tennis were among those to join more than a dozen other Olympic sports in excluding competitors from Russia and Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine. The International Paralympic Committee, however, said Russians and Belarusians would be able to compete in Beijing as “neutral athletes” without national symbols.

Blanket bans have been imposed in soccer, track, basketball and hockey, among other sports, following an appeal from the International Olympic Committee to exclude Russians and Belarusians from international events.

The IOC, however, left open the possibility of allowing them to compete as neutral athletes if expulsion was not possible because of short notice.

The Winter Paralympics open Friday and numerous Russian athletes are already in the Chinese capital. The IPC has said it is working to get the Ukrainian team there, too.

Other sports bodies which have so far let Russians and Belarusians keep competing as neutral athletes include FINA, which governs swimming and other aquatic sports, and the federations for boxing, gymnastics, fencing and judo.

The restrictions have been strongly criticized by Russian politicians and on Wednesday by striker Artem Dzyuba, the top scorer for the Russian national soccer team.

Dzyuba wrote on Instagram that he is “against any war. War is terrible,” but said he found sporting sanctions a form of discrimination. “I am against discrimination based on nationality. I’m not ashamed to be Russian. I am proud to be Russian. And I don’t understand why athletes have to suffer now.”

The governing body for British motorsports on Wednesday banned Russians from competing at events in the country, throwing into doubt Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin’s ability to race in the British Grand Prix in July.

The sport’s international governing body, known as FIA, had said Tuesday that Russian drivers like Mazepin can still compete but a block on having cars in national colors would stop his team, Haas, from bringing back the Russian flag-stripe livery it removed during last week’s testing.

Motorsport UK went further, with sanctions barring drivers and teams from Russia and Belarus from competing anywhere in Britain. The FIA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on what it would do when its rules conflict with those of national governing bodies.

The invasion of Ukraine has also led to a reshaping of sports’ corporate ties to Russia. English soccer club Everton ended its sponsorship with companies belonging to Alisher Usmanov, a Russian billionaire who was placed under European Union sanctions last week. Also, a potential buyer has claimed Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is seeking to sell Chelsea, last year’s Champions League winner.

There has also been an exodus of foreign players and coaches at Russian sports teams. Former Norwich manager Daniel Farke quit as coach of Russian soccer club FC Krasnodar on Wednesday, a day after Markus Gisdol left as coach of Lokomotiv Moscow. Defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy, who played for Ukraine at two European Championships, canceled his contract with Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday for what the club said were family reasons.

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