FIG is in favor of the return of Russians and Belarusians to international competitions

“Sport is independent of politics”


The president of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), Morinari Watanabe, has shown himself this Thursday in favor of the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions, arguing that “sport is independent of politics,” according to a statement. .

Watanabe visited Ukraine on an unscheduled visit for the funeral of legendary rhythmic gymnastics coach Albina Deriugina and used the occasion to meet in Kiev with the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andrii Yermak, and with the Ukrainian Minister of Sports, Vadim Gutzeit. .

From there, he affirmed that he supports the position of Ukraine in the political aspect due to the conflict initiated by Russia, but recalled that “sport is independent of politics”. “Sport must seek peace even when governments and soldiers are at war. That is the mission entrusted to sport,” Watanabe said in a statement released by FIG on Thursday.

“I protect all gymnasts in the world as if they were my family. That is why I support Ukrainian gymnasts and that is why I defend the right of Russian and Belarusian gymnasts who are not involved in the war to participate in competitions,” he added.

The FIG indicated that the recommendations issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on March 28, 2023 for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals and under strict conditions will be discussed at the next meeting of the FIG Executive Committee in Turkey. on May 12 and 13. “Decisions made at this meeting, like all decisions of the FIG Executive Committee, will be published on the FIG website,” the text advanced.

The IOC recommendation does not include the 2024 Paris Olympics, for which a firm decision is not expected until much later in the year.