Badminton keeps barring Russia as Olympic qualifying begins

Japan's Kanta Tsuneyama prepares to serve against Russian Olympic Committee's Sergey Sirant during their men's badminton singles match at the BWF World Championships in Huelva, Spain, on Dec. 13, 2021. Badminton has upheld its ban on Russian and Belarusian players in international competitions on the eve of the start of Olympic qualifying. The Badminton World Federation cites security concerns and says it needs more clarity on proposals from the International Olympic. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File) (Manu Fernandez, Manu Fernandez)

KUALA LUMPUR – Badminton upheld its ban on Russian and Belarusian players in international competitions on Thursday, days before Olympic qualifying begins.

Badminton’s qualifying period for next year’s Paris Olympics starts on May 1 and uses a calendar-year ranking.

Meanwhile, modern pentathlon said it would set up a “pathway” for athletes from the two countries to return but didn't commit to a date.

The Badminton World Federation cited security concerns and the need for “more clarity” on the International Olympic Committee's “complex criteria” to admit some Russians and Belarusians as neutral athletes without national symbols but keep excluding others, such as military personnel or those who have supported the invasion of Ukraine.

The IOC also recommends allowing athletes from only Russia and Belarus to compete individually and not in team sports or “team events in individual sports.” That raises the prospect in badminton of players being allowed to play singles but not doubles as a national team, a point the BWF did not address directly in its statement on Thursday.

The recommendations from the IOC last month aren't binding on sports' governing bodies, which can implement them as they wish. The IOC has said it hasn't made a decision on what happens at the Paris Olympics.

Modern pentathlon's governing body, known as the UIPM, said it would follow the IOC's recommendations but didn't set any timetable. It will be up to an “independent panel” to decide when and how Russians and Belarusians are readmitted, the governing body said.

“It is our firm belief that sport should be politically neutral and now, more than ever, must act as a vehicle for peace and a symbol of solidarity between athletes,” the UIPM said.

Other Olympic sports which have followed the IOC and said they want to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutral athletes include wrestling, taekwondo and triathlon. Athletics, weightlifting and equestrian have all maintained bans.


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