IFSC and UIAA Cancel Climbing Events in Russia, Suspend Athletes and Officials

© Jan Virt/IFSC

Update 3/3: The IFSC and UIAA have now extended their suspensions to all Russian and Belarusian athletes, officials and members of commissions and working groups. Read more here (IFSC) and here (UIAA).

The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) and the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) have announced that upcoming competitions scheduled to take place in Russia have been cancelled or relocated due to the country's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, while condemning the violence of the conflict.

IFSC World Championships Moscow 2021.   © Jan Virt/IFSC
IFSC World Championships Moscow 2021.
© Jan Virt/IFSC

The decisions followed mounting pressure from the climbing community on social media and a strong statement released earlier today from the International Olympic Committee, which urges all International Federations to relocate or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus, declaring their 'strong condemnation of the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government and the government of Belarus through its support in this.'

The IOC continued:

'[Federations] should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes absolute priority. 

'In addition, the IOC EB urges that no Russian or Belarussian national flag be displayed and no Russian or Belarussian anthem be played in international sports events which are not already part of the respective World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sanctions for Russia.'

The upcoming IFSC Boulder and Speed World Cups in Moscow, scheduled for 1 to 3 April, have been 'suspended' with the intention of relocating the event once a host is selected. A press release from the IFSC reads:

'IFSC President Marco Scolaris held several meetings today. During his discussion with the Ukrainian Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UMF), he expressed the solidarity of the IFSC and the entire climbing community with the people of Ukraine during this unprecedented crisis. President Scolaris added that he hoped the conflict in Ukraine would end quickly and peacefully without any further violence.'

The two remaining UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup events scheduled to take place in Tyumen and Kirov in March have been cancelled.

In a statement, Peter Muir, UIAA President, added:

'In addition, the UIAA Executive Board makes it clear that it condemns in the strongest possible terms any and all use of state or individual violence in pursuit of any aim or for the purpose of the settlement of perceived or actual disputes such as the current Russian actions against Ukraine.'  

On Thursday, a post from a Kyiv climber read: 'Today we woke up at 5 a.m. from the explosions in Kyiv... And they say there are explosions all over Ukraine. Russia started invasion... God help us all.

'Please share as much as possible. Let the world know that Ukraine is officially under attack of Russia. Now we need the support of everyone.'

In the last two days, displays of solidarity between Russian and Ukrainian sport climbing athletes have been shared in social media posts, including photos of members of both teams competing and socialising together.

'No words necessary. We are brothers and sisters,' one Russian athlete posted. 

Meanwhile, climbers from across Europe and beyond are reaching out to assist Ukrainian refugees. The Italian climbing federation FASI is offering asylum and support to Ukrainian athletes via their residential training facility in Arco.

A 16-year-old Ukrainian climber called Illya (now safe abroad) is coordinating refuge and accommodation in other countries for fellow Ukrainians using his international climbing contacts and is seeking offers of help and asking people to spread the word.

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26 Feb

Good to see that most sporting organisations are not remaining silent on the issue.

26 Feb

I wonder if banning Russian participation is next on the list, surely they can’t be allowed any international platform to spread any form of soft power.

I know what you're saying but it's pretty harsh on the athletes. I'm sure they don't support the war.

2 Mar

You cannot tell what individual athletes think or say - some will be totally against what is happening, some will be supporting it, but sanctions cannot discriminate between them.

What is virtually certain, is that anyone who is against the war will understand the stance taken, and anyone who supports the war we (I presume) do not want flag-waving anyway.

Also that sanctions will hurt Putin where he feels it, as in a form of "disrespect", and individual Russians will eventually understand that EVERY other country doesn't want anything to do with them. They won't be able to hold onto the lie that their enemies are Nazis and drug dealers for ever, not when pretty well the entire world is in that list.

You really think a climber that's travelled and competed internationally, and had all the experiences associated with that, would be for the war? I think it's pretty unlikely.

As far as I can see, the only people for it are those brainwashed by Russian state media with no access to other news sources.

For the record, I'm not against banning the athletes competing. I just said it was harsh that you can spend your life training for a sport and then be banned from it because the country you represent has a crazed leader.

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