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Call to Senior Leaders for Sports Ban Following the Invasion of Ukraine

Call to Senior Leaders for Sports Ban Following the Invasion of Ukraine

Bruce Kidd, Grant Jarvie, Peter Donnelly

Resolution ES-11/1. The resolution was sponsored by 96 countries, and passed with 141 voting in favour, 5 against, and 35 abstentions.

Some Key Facts:

24 February 2022 The Government of Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

25 February, the United Nations Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution which would have “deplored, the Russian Federation’s aggression” on Ukraine.

Of the 15 member states on the Security Council, 11 were in support, whilst 3 abstained from voting. The draft resolution failed due to Russia’s veto.

March 2nd the eleventh emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly culminated with the adoption of Resolution ES-11/1. The resolution was sponsored by 96 countries, and passed with 141 voting in favour, 5 against, and 35 abstentions

March 8th Ministers from 37 nations signed a joint statement calling for sporting sanctions to be imposed on Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine “until cooperation under the fundamental principles of international law has become possible again.”

Signatories include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia,Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America.

The measures taken by sports bodies to date have included:

Condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

Cancelling & relocating events.

Preventing participation of athletes & team officials in competitions.

Allowing the participation of individuals on the conditions that no association with their country is made.

Suspending national sport federations’ membership.

Suspending leadership representation in governance structures.

Suspending and/or cancelling sponsorship contracts.

Withdrawing orders of honours from Government Representatives.

Arguing for the case of the Russian- Ukraine War as a case of “force-majeure” in world sport.

Seizing assets of Russian owners of sports clubs.

Political protest and support demonstrated at sporting events.

Writing to senior leaders-

February 27, 2022

President Joseph Biden
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Prime Minister Trudeau

Ban Russian and Belarusian athletes, coaches and sports managers from your countries

Dear Senior Leaders:

We write, as professors of sports and human rights, in the face of the unprovoked, illegal, and barbaric invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with the open, shameful complicity of Belarus. In addition to the sanctions and other actions you have taken, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to stop granting visas and work permits to sports persons from Russia and Belarus, effectively immediately. The ban should stay in effect until the invasion has ended and integrity and safety of democratic Ukraine has been fully restored.

The International Olympic and Paralympic Committees have condemned the invasion as a violation of the Olympic Truce, and have called upon the international and national federations to boycott events held in Russia and Belarus and to move those scheduled for Russia and Belarus to democratic countries.

While we support those actions, we feel they do not go far enough to demonstrate the sports world’s abhorrence of the invasion.

Since Russian and Belarussian sportspersons regularly travel to your countries for training, competition and employment, and such international sports participation serves as source of great pride to Russia and Belarus, it must be stopped. The precedent for this call is the international campaign against apartheid sport in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, in which representative South African athletes were banned from your countries, an embargo that brought home the sports community’s repugnance of apartheid to the White minority in South Africa and showed the Black majority that the international isolation of apartheid South Africa was tightening.

From our experience in the anti-apartheid campaign, we know you have the power to cancel the granting of visas and work permits to designated persons immediately. Please do that for Russian and Belarussian sportspersons.

Putin has always understood the soft power sport can play in politics. It has been central both to his image and to his core strategy of the reassertion of Russian power. Appropriate sport measures will have an effect.

Thank you very much for your consideration. If you have any questions, please let us know.


Peter Donnelly, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
Grant Jarvie, Professor, Universities of Edinburgh and Toronto
Bruce Kidd, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto


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