(Geneva) Russian athletes will likely participate in the Taekwondo World Championships to be held next month, the organization that oversees the discipline on the planet announced on Monday.
The decision of the World Taekwondo board of directors could force the Ukrainian government to carry out its threat to boycott sporting events in which Russian or Belarusian athletes participate.
Russia is dominant in taekwondo. Its four athletes have climbed the podium at the Tokyo Olympics, including two on the top step. Ukraine could not qualify in this discipline.
World Taekwondo leaders met virtually on Monday to discuss the International Olympic Committee (IOC) memo sent last week to sports federations recommending allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes and leaders to participate, under neutral flag, competitions in the run-up to the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Among the conditions of neutrality that should be observed by Russian and Belarusian athletes and leaders, the IOC has suggested, are a ban on speaking out in favor of war in Ukraine and a ban on maintaining “professional ties with the military or national security agencies”.
The Taekwondo Worlds will kick off on May 29 in Baku, where Russians and Belarusians can go without having to apply for a work visa — as is the case in most other European countries.
Russian athletes were excluded from the Taekwondo Worlds in Mexico in 2022 because of the war in Ukraine. They had won four medals at the Worlds in the previous edition, in 2019.
World Taekwondo calls for peace in the world and reiterated its desire “to support Ukrainian athletes so that they can participate in taekwondo competitions”.