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Updated: IOC urges sports federations to cancel events in Russia and Belarus – will Ironman and Challenge do that?

Inaugural events in Moscow and St. Petersburg scheduled for this summer

This story has been updated with a statement from Ironman and a social media post from Challenge Moscow.

Ironman and Challenge Family both have events slated to take place in Russia this summer – Ironman 70.3 St. Petersburg was announced in Dec., 2019, but the race hasn’t yet taken place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is slated for July 17 this year. Challenge Family announced Challenge Moscow last March, but that race also didn’t take place last year. It’s scheduled for June 26, 2022.

We reached out to both Ironman and Challenge Family today to find out what might be happening to the events in Russia based on that country’s invasion of Ukraine over the last two days.

The safety and wellbeing of our athletes, volunteers, partners, and staff continues to be our utmost priority,” Ironman said in a statement. “Like so many other events and organizations, we are carefully monitoring the troubling and unsettling situation in Ukraine while also working through the evolving guidance from the relevant governmental authorities and governing bodies and federations. As more information becomes available to determine our next steps, we will update our impacted athletes.”

A Challenge Family source said that they were monitoring the events in Russia and Ukraine closely, but wouldn’t be making an official statement before the weekend.

Through social media, Challenge Moscow officials have expressed their support for Ukraine and their disappointment that the country has gone to war. “One people, one history, one pain,” the organization posted on Facebook. “We are together with Ukraine. We are against war.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has strongly condemned “the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government and the government of Belarus through its support in this.” The Olympic Truce, which was supported by consensus of all 193 UN Member States, was to begin seven days before the start of the Olympic Games and end seven days after the closing of the Paralympic Games. The IOC is now urging all International Sports Federations “to relocate or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus. In addition, the IOC EB (executive board) 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.”

World Triathlon has already sanctioned Russia because of the doping issues that have plagued the country’s sport system for years. Part of that sanction means the Russian Triathlon Federation can’t host any World Triathlon events, but presumably that didn’t preclude organizations like Ironman and Challenge from putting events on in the country. The IOC doesn’t have any events planned in either country, either.

With the many western nations working together on economic sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, one would imagine there will be some pressure on both Ironman and Challenge Family to cancel its events in Russia yet again.