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Ukraine Boycotts World Judo Championships over Inclusion of Russians

Ukraine Judo
With the World Judo Championships set to begin Sunday in Doha, Qatar, the Ukrainian Judo Federation announced on Monday it will not be sending it's athletes to participate. The move comes in response to the International Judo Federation's (IJF) decision to allow judoka from Russia and Belarus to participate as "neutral" athletes.

Ukraine cited, among it's concerns, that a number of the Russian judoka had direct links to the Russian military, which launched an invasion of their country last year. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had previously recommended a ban on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions. But they recently stated these athletes should be allowed to return to competition as long as they compete under a neutral flag and do not have direct ties to their country's military. However, of the 20 Russian and Belarusian athletes listed as competing in the upcoming World Judo Championships, five of the Russian judoka were reported to be part of the Central Sports Club of the Army, with four of them holding the rank of staff sergeant.

In allowing the Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete, the IJF had stated they were engaging "an independent, reputable company to perform background checks on all the individuals proposed for participation..." The IJF has, so far, made no statements on how the background checks are being conducted or whether they plan to follow IOC recommendations on the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes with ties to the military (Editor's Note: Since the original writing of this story, the IJF announced 8 Russian competitors have been rejected after failing their background checks).

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