Why Russia May Not Compete In Future Olympics

Vladimir Putin took a great risk when he sent Russian military troops into Ukraine to invade the sovereign democratic nation and advance on its capital city of Kyiv. The United States and other NATO countries threatened steep economic sanctions against Russia and its oligarchs and followed through after Russia's invasion on February 23, taking the rare step two days later imposing personal sanctions on Putin himself, signaling that he is now a pariah in the international community.

Throughout the weekend, Russians protested in the streets against the war their president decided to wage and Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenskyy remained in the capital city posting a video to social media announcing he is not going to run and hide as he requested military aid. The support for Ukraine and the outcry against Russia from other nations led the Washington Post editorial board to declare "the war is not going Putin's way" on Sunday and on Monday, Russia was punished for its actions in another way.

Russia is banned from international sports

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made a bold statement on February 28, 2022, when it chose to ban Russia from certain international sports competitions, including soccer and hockey, citing Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its effect on Ukrainian athletes as its reason. Belarus was also targeted because its government is assisting Russia with the invasion.

"The Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, World Championships and World Cups and many other sports events unite athletes of countries which are in confrontation and sometimes even war," the committee wrote in a statement. "At the same time, the Olympic Movement is united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they are not actively participating in them. We are committed to fair competitions for everybody without any discrimination. The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma. While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country."

After the IOC made its announcement, the two biggest world soccer bodies that fall under the IOC umbrella, FIFA and UEFA, banned Russia from soccer competitions just three weeks before World Cup qualifying games. While there was no word on how long the ban would last, if it goes into the second half of 2022, it could affect team qualifications for the 2024 Olympic games.