World Sailing bans Russian and Belarusian sailors

World Sailing Image courtesy of World Sailing

World Sailing, the world governing body for the sport of sailing, has announced that it will suspend the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in World Sailing owned and sanctioned competitions and events until further notice, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The news follows a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Russian and Belarusian athletes be prevented from competing in international events.

In a declaration made on Monday, the IOC said it was acting with “a heavy heart” as it called for a ban on both Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials.

Today’s news marks a stronger position for World Sailing. On Tuesday, it released a brief statement confirming that there were no World Sailing organised regattas planned in Russia or Belarus in 2022, adding that the Executive Board “are supporting the relocation of training and education events in Russia” and highlighting the body’s concern for its friends in the Ukrainian sailing community.

Then, on Wednesday morning, the body updated its stance with a more strongly-worded follow-up statement.

“Today World Sailing joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and global sports organisations in taking the decision to suspend participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in World Sailing owned and sanctioned competitions and events until further notice,” the statement says.

“By implementing these measures, World Sailing is supporting a united and coordinated approach within the global sports movement.

“This decision is in line with the IOC Executive Board’s recommendation, aimed at preserving the integrity of competitions and ensuring the safety of all participants, and has been unanimously agreed by the World Sailing Executive Board.

“We are now strongly urging our Member National Authorities, Class Associations, affiliated bodies, and all event organisers to implement the measure to suspend the participation of Russian or Belarusian athletes and officials in their respective events and competitions.

“Where this is not possible, due to short time frames, for organisational, or legal reasons, World Sailing, in line with the IOC Executive Board recommendation, is advising event organisers do everything in their power to ensure that Russian or Belarusian athletes (be it as individuals or teams), and officials participate neutrally, without national symbols, colours, flags or anthems.

“Both on and off the water, our sport is united by the values of equality, inclusion, respect and fairness.

“We are now asking our sailing family to come together as a sporting force for good by working with us at this incredibly difficult time.”

At least three merchant ships have been hit since Russian forces began its attack against Ukraine, including Namura Queen

As the crisis in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, the global community is increasing its response in the form of sanctions against Russia and its ally, Belarus.

On Tuesday, Marine Industry News reported that the UK has told its ports to restrict access to any Russian flagged, registered, owned, controlled, chartered or operated vessels, with “prohibiting legislation to follow”.

On Monday, FIFA announced that it was indefinitely suspending Russian teams and club sides from all football competitions. The International Paralympic Committee is to meet later today to discuss Russia, with the Winter Paralympics set to start in Beijing on Friday.

On 26 February, a group of Anonymous hackers renamed the superyacht reportedly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin to ‘FCKPTN’ and changed its destination to ‘hell’ by manipulating its maritime data.

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