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International Snowsports Events in Russia Cancelled After Invasion of Ukraine

The International Ski Federation has announced that all competitions due to be held in Russia for the rest of the season have been cancelled. It’s a swift about turn for FIS who had earlier indicated that World Cup events planned for this weekend would go ahead. The International Olympic Committee is urging all international sports federations to cancel all events in Russia and Belarus. NEW & UPDATED

World Cup events had been due to take place in ski cross and aerials with some athletes having travelled direct to Russia from the Beijing Olympics.

In fact, one competition started before it was abruptly called off.

On Friday morning the men’s and women’s ski cross qualification rounds at Sunny Valley near Chelyabinsk went ahead but with only Russian skiers involved.

None of the international athletes scheduled to take part, among them GB’s Ollie Davies, started the event.

Over the previous 24 hours, many governing bodies had announced they were pulling out their athletes.

In the men’s qualification round on Friday morning there should have been 61 skiers.  Instead, there were six Russians.

In the women’s, 7 Russians completed qualification out of 24 on the start list.

Women’s Ski Cross World Cup results after only Russians started – image FIS website

The non-starters included the new Olympic champions,  Ryan Regez of Switzerland and Sandra Näeslund of Sweden.

The remaining rounds, which should have continued over the next three days, along with all other World Cup events planned in Russia this season, have now been called off.

They include:

    • The cross-country World Cup Finals in Tyumen, from March 18th to 20th.
    • The last four editions of the women’s Ski Jumping World Cup March 19th and 27th, in Nizhny Tagil and Chaykovsky.

“After close consultation with its stakeholders, FIS has decided that in the interest of the safety of all participants and to maintain the integrity of the World Cup, all remaining World Cup events scheduled to take place in Russia between now and the end of the 2021-22 season will be cancelled or moved to another location,” FIS announced in a statement.

“Consequently the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup in Sunny Valley (FEB 25-27) as well two aerials World Cup events in Yaroslavl (FEB 26-27) and Moscow (MAR 5) will not take place.

“Participants are already on site at the two World Cup events that were planned for this weekend (Ski Cross and Aerials) and FIS is working closely with the involved stakeholders to ensure their quick return back home.

“FIS will communicate the replacement competitions hosts and dates as they are confirmed for the impacted events.”

Other World Cup events had already been cancelled before the FIS announcement – a parallel snowboard competition in Moscow on Saturday and a moguls competition in Kuzbass next weekend.

Some athletes had said they would not, in any event,  be competing.

Australian aerials skier, Danielle Scott, tweeted that she would be leaving Russia and not competing in Yaroslavl.

“Decision has been made to leave Russia and not compete in the final World Cups,” she said. 

The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, welcomed her decision and called for further sporting boycotts.

“I commend those Australians that are saying they won’t participate in anything that is occurring in Russia this year,” he said.

“This is the way you impose a cost on Russia that is invading its neighbour.”

“All international sporting events in Russia should have their authorisations withdrawn from all international sporting bodies,” added  Mr Morrison.

“This includes the F1 Grand Prix in Sochi.”

The Grand Prix was due to be held in September but that, too, has now been cancelled.

Formula 1 said it was impossible to hold the event in the current circumstances.  

Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel had already said he would not compete.

“I think it’s wrong to race in the country. I’m sorry for the innocent people that are losing their lives, that are getting killed (for) stupid reasons and a very strange and mad leadership,” Vettel said.

The International Olympic Committee Executive Board has now urged all International Sports Federations to relocate or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia or neighbouring Belarus, which is a close ally of Putin’s Russia.

IOC flag – photo © IOC

“They should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes absolute priority. The IOC itself has no events planned in Russia or Belarus,” and IOC statement said.

“In addition, the IOC EB urges that no Russian or Belarussian national flag be displayed and no Russian or Belarussian anthem be played in international sports events which are not already part of the respective World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sanctions for Russia.

“At the same time, the IOC EB expresses its full support to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

“The IOC EB expresses its deep concerns about the safety of the members of the Olympic Community in Ukraine and stands in full solidarity. It notes that the special IOC task force is in contact with the Olympic Community in the country to coordinate humanitarian assistance where possible.”

The statement made no reference to whether athletes competing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee will be permitted to compete at the Beijing Paralympics, which is due to begin on 4th March.

Before this weekend’s ski cross World Cup at Sunny Valley was abandoned, Alpine Canada told CBC Sports that it was withdrawing its 15 athletes from the ski cross event in Russia.

It says it is now trying to fly them home.

The Canadian aerials team also didn’t go to Russia.

The cross-country team said it would not take part in the late-March event in Russia.

Canada

Canada. Image © PlanetSKI.

The Swiss Ski Team also made it clear that its athletes would not participate in any event in Russia.

“War and violence are not a solution – Swiss-Ski has withdrawn its athletes from the World Cups in Russia and will not take part in any more competitions in Russia until further notice,” the team tweeted.

Uefa has taken the 2022 Champions League final away from St Petersburg.

The decision was made at Friday’s emergency meeting of European football’s governing body.

The Champions League final was set to be played at the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg on 28th May.

It will now take place in Paris.

Earlier, The International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee condemned Russia.

A Russian delegation will be heading to the Winter Paralympics in Beijing, which begin on 4 March.

The International Paralympic Committee has said it is “in dialogue” with the Ukrainian and Russian Paralympic Committees amid the ongoing crisis.

Russia’s name, flag and anthem are already barred from the March Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

The International Paralympic Committee President, Andrew Parsons, has said Ukraine’s athletes face a “mammoth challenge” to compete at the Beijing Paralympic Games.

In its first statement on the situation on Thursday, the IOC said it “strongly condemns the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government” and was concerned for the safety of the Olympic community in Ukraine.

The Olympic Truce began 7 days before the Beijing Winter Olympics opened on 4th February and ends 7 days after the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games, which take place from 4th to 13th March.

The IOC President, Thomas Bach, has reiterated his call for peace, which he made in his speeches at both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in at the Beijing Games.

The resolution establishing the Olympic Truce was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2nd December by consensus of all 193 UN Member States.

Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022. Image c/o IOC.

Snowsports figures have joined the condemnation of the Russia invasion of Ukraine including the GB ex-Olympic skier, Martin Bell.

Here at PlanetSKI we will be monitoring and updating on how the crisis may impact on the world of snowsports.