Russia ban likely to extend to qualifying for world gymnastics championships

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A ban on Russian gymnasts from international competition due to the war in Ukraine will likely keep its Olympic champion teams from qualifying outright for this fall’s world championships.

The European Championships, the lone pathway for European nations to qualify teams for gymnastics worlds in October and November, start next week. Russia and Belarus athletes have been barred by the European Gymnastics federation (UEG) and the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) until further notice since early March after Russia invaded Ukraine.

When asked if Russia could be reinstated in time to compete at the European Championships that start Aug. 11 in Munich, a UEG spokesperson responded with text from and a link to the early March ban announcement. The competition’s detailed gymnastics schedule does not include Russia in its list of participating nations.

Russia’s gymnastics federation appealed both the UEG and FIG bans to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). When asked if a decision on the appeals was expected before the European Championships, a CAS spokesperson said Tuesday, “The procedures are ongoing and the decisions are not expected to be announced in the coming days.”

When asked how, if at all, Russia can qualify teams for the world championships without participating at the European Championships, an FIG spokesperson noted the current ban and said the federation will not comment further “as a CAS decision is awaited.”

Last week, the head of Russia’s gymnastics federation reportedly said there is no chance Russian gymnasts will be allowed to compete at worlds.

Bans on Russian athletes in most Olympic sports kept them out of other world championships this summer, including in aquatics and track and field.

Long before the Russian bans, the FIG changed its qualification system for the team event at world championships starting this year. In the past, any nation could compete in the team event at the worlds taking place two years before the Olympics (barring banned athletes and federations, of course).

Now, the 2022 World Championships field is capped at 24 teams, all qualifying via continental meets such as the European Championships.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, the IOC called for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be barred indefinitely from international competition to protect the integrity of the events and the safety of the other participants.

Russia’s ability to qualify gymnastics teams for the 2024 Paris Olympics will not be significantly impacted unless the ban extends to major 2023 competitions.

Last year, Russians won the Olympic men’s gymnastics team title for the first time since 1996 and the women’s team title for the first time since Russia began competing on its own after the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Russians competed in Tokyo as the Russian Olympic Committee team as the nation’s name, flag and anthem were banned due to Russia’s well-publicized anti-doping violations.

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