Press Releases, Belarus, Human Rights

War of Aggression against Ukraine: Call for Complete Ban of Russia and Belarus from the International Sporting System

Berlin, February 26, 2022. For several days now, Russia, with Belarusian support, has been waging a war of aggression against Ukraine. This invasion represents a fundamental breach of international law and blatantly violates the established values and norms of the international order. Athleten Deutschland is aghast and condemns the Russian war of aggression in the strongest possible terms. Our sympathies are with people on the ground who suffer from the military aggression.

All societal subsystems have the responsibility to question their relations with Russia and to impose tough sanctions – including national and international sport. We welcome initial reactions from national and international federations, including those of the DOSB and the IOC. Although the war of aggression has now been going on for several days, resolute action by international federations is mostly lacking. For this reason, we call on the international federations today to completely exclude Russia and Belarus from the world of international sport.

The Putin system for many years has deliberately used sports for its purposes: International federations and clubs depend on the money of Russian oligarchs and sponsors. Russian representatives hold influential positions in the international federation system. Many international sporting events regularly take place in Russia. Sporting success is seen as a sign of national strength and superiority. Athletes are utilized to produce this success. Any means have been used to achieve this – be it the violation of human rights and especially children’s rights of athletes or the operation of a state-orchestrated doping system.

In short, Russia misused sport for its political goals and has been damaging the integrity of sport for years. Putin has broken the Olympic Truce for the third time after 2008 and 2014 and thus repeatedly trampled on the values of sport – peace, non-discrimination, human dignity, and international understanding. The violation of the Olympic Truce can no longer remain without far-reaching consequences.

International and national sport must now exhaust all options for action and unitedly impose sanctions with full force and severity to stay true to its values and remain credible. With a heavy heart we realize that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be spared from such measures for the time being. The Russian war of aggression leaves no choice but for sanctions to affect innocent civilians as well.

We therefore call on national and international federations, IPC and IOC, and states to take the following actions:

  1. Clear articulation and condemnation of the Russian war of aggression with Belarusian participation by international and national federations.
  2. Complete ban of Russian and Belarusian federations from the international sporting system, including the Russian and Belarusian National Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
  3. Unilateral termination of all financial relations with Russian donors. The IOC should cushion relevant economic damage to international federations with interim funding.
  4. Exclusion of all Belarusian and Russian officials from the international sporting system.
  5. Inclusion of relevant donors and officials on state sanctions lists.
  6. Exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions for the duration of the war of aggression. Athletes should be allowed to compete again under a neutral flag after the end of the war.
  7. Cancellation and relocation of all international sporting events that would take place in Russia or Belarus.
  8. Cancellation and relocation of all training activities that would take place in Russia or Belarus.
  9. Provision of support and assistance to Ukrainian athletes and their respective entourages.
  10. In the long term: Addressing Russia’s targeted influence on world sport, implementing defensive measures against sportswashing, and reviewing actions that address the sporting consequences of breaching the Olympic Truce.

German representatives in national and international federations, along with like-minded officials from other countries, should urgently use their influence to bring about the swift and complete isolation of Russia and Belarus.