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Challenge Moscow organizers condemn military action on social media

IOC asks federations not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials to compete

Photo by: Challenge Moscow Facebook

Russia might be threatening to limit access to Facebook in the country, but that’s not stopping the organizers of Challenge Moscow from expressing their opinion about the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The Russians and the Ukrainians are one people, we are united by the common culture and history, we developed together and braved the storms together,” the company posted on Facebook over the weekend. “Today we are grieving together; we express the deepest respect for our neighbors. We have a lot in common, and we need to muster patience, the different times are waiting for us ahead. The sports and politics don’t mix and have never mixed. We condemn military action. We love Ukraine and believe that one of these days the parties will sit down at the negotiating table.”

Russia started restricting Facebook last Friday after the company “refused to stop fact-checking and labelling content from state-owned news organizations,” according to the BBC. There are reports that access to Twitter has been restricted even more.

The BBC also reports that, according to Sir Nick Clegg, vice-president of global affairs at Meta (the parent company of Facebook), “Ordinary Russians are using our apps to express themselves and organise for action.” He says Meta wants “them to continue to make their voices heard.”

IOC looks to bar Russian and Belarussian athletes

As sports federations across Europe are refusing to compete against Russia, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is asking sports organizations to “not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.”

“We are committed to fair competitions for everybody without any discrimination,” the IOC said in a statement today. “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 initially saying that it would not exclude Russia from World Cup qualifying, but would allow the country to compete at RFU, FIFA, one of soccer’s international governing bodies, have now suspended Russia from its competitions. The Russian national team was to play Poland on March 24 as part of FIFA’s World Cup qualifying process, but Poland had refused to play the game. UEFA, soccer’s other international governing body, has also banned Russia.

The IOC has also withdrawn the Olympic Order it gave to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2001.