Wrestling: UWW allows Russia and Belarus wrestlers to compete as neutrals

The United World Wrestling (UWW) has decided to permit athletes from Belarus and Russia to compete internationally once more as neutrals.

Zaurbek Sidakov in action (Image Credits - Twitter)
By Abhiruchi Rout | Apr 5, 2023 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The United World Wrestling (UWW) has decided to permit athletes from Belarus and Russia to compete internationally once more as neutrals. At a meeting, the UWW Bureau decided to reinstate the Russian and Belarusian wrestlers within the IOC’s participation requirements (IOC). This follows the IOC Executive Board’s suggestion from last week that certain Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to compete as long as they do not publicly support the invasion of Ukraine or have any connections to the armed forces. Wrestling has a unique power to unify individuals from diverse origins and cultures, according to UWW President Nenad Lalovic, who is also a member of the IOC Executive Council and contributes to peacebuilding and tolerance among countries.

Natalya Yarygina, the vice president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, has praised the United World Wrestling‘s decision and stated that the sport had suffered without Russian and Belarusian competitors. She went on to say that everyone had been supportive of the UWW and that they were a welcoming team. For the purpose of determining whether wrestlers competing in senior categories are eligible, the UWW will assemble an impartial panel. Under-15 and under-17-year-old wrestlers will be able to compete right away. No globally recognized events are authorized in either nation, and the UWW continues to prohibit officials from the two nations from participating.

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ROC at Tokyo Olympics 2020 and RWF at the UWW World Championships 2021

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team won four gold and four bronze medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, finishing second on the medal table behind Japan. Japan topped the team standings with five gold, one silver, and one bronze. While, at the 2021 UWW World Championships in Oslo, the Russian Wrestling Federation finished top of the team rankings in the men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman events, winning 18 medals. The team finished fourth overall with four gold, five silver, and nine bronze medals.

Other sports federations’ decision on Russia and Belarus

The UWW reaffirmed its commitment to promoting peace and brotherhood through sports and its solidarity with the people of Ukraine. It insisted that it would continue to support the Ukrainian wrestling community, as it has done since the war broke out. In response, Ukraine’s government has stated that its athletes will not participate in any qualifying events for the Paris 2024 Olympics if Russians are participating in the event. Out of all the sports federations,  the International Fencing Federation (FIE), World Taekwondo, and the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) have adhered to the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As a result, they are planning to permit Russian and Belarus athletes to compete.

Read More-World Taekwondo plans to allow Russia and Belarus athletes as ‘neutrals’