Starting tomorrow, more than 650 athletes from 99 nations will be fighting for medals at the Judo World Championships in Qatar. Among them were 20 judoka from Russia and Belarus – and because they are there, the Ukrainian national team withdrew from the World Cup.
“Politically, we understand that you don’t want to compete with Russian and Belarusian athletes on the mat at the moment,” says Frank Doetsch about the Ukrainian association’s cancellation. The reason for the cancellation is the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus, who are allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
The executive committee of the world federation decided that Russian and Belarusian judoka would be allowed to participate after an “independent company” checked whether these athletes had supported the war.
“We would have preferred a different decision,” says Doetsch. “But after the IOC’s recommendation came out, it was actually a logical decision.” Ultimately, the World Cup in Doha in Qatar is the last chance to ensure proper qualification for the summer games in Paris.
“Topic less present worldwide than in Northern and Central Europe”
The topic was omnipresent in Doha at the beginning, including at the preparatory congress, says Doetsch. “But you have to say that the issue is particularly important in the countries of Central and Northern Europe. If I look at the whole issue globally, it’s not as big as we have in Central Europe itself.”
However, athletes do deal with the conflict: “I assume that every athlete is aware of the political dimension of this matter. But on the other hand, it’s the same as in any competition: when you step on the mat and the If the referee opens the fight with the command ‘Hajime’, then it’s a fight like any other. And then you concentrate on the fight and ignore the political thing.”
According to Dlf research, there are seven Russian athletes in Doha who are listed on the website of the army sports club CSKA. It is also clear there that they are members of the military: Among other things, a non-commissioned officer, a lieutenant and two officer candidates, who also won gold at the military games, compete. They are all allowed to compete in the Worlds, although the IOC recommends that military personnel should not compete.
The review was carried out by an independent company commissioned by the International Association (IJF), says Doetsch. It is a company with which the IOC also works. The information that the Dlf researched was not known to him:
“We didn’t see any documents ourselves. We received the information that was communicated to the nations in advance by the IJF. And that was it in the end in terms of content. Of course, you also want to protect the privacy of each individual.” , says Doetsch. But there is one point that is not satisfactory.
Things are also unfortunate for the German association in terms of sport. Anna-Maria Wagner was injured in the last competition, Eduard Trippel in the training camp before the World Cup. “It’s very bitter for us that our two Olympic medal winners injured themselves before the World Championships,” says Doetsch.
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