Putin suspended as Honorary President of International Judo Federation

The Russian President's status has been put on hold with all tournaments cancelled

Emily Kelso
16th March 2022
Image: The Courier
In a short, blunt and to the point statement, the Judo Federation announced the suspension of Vladimir Putin as Honorary President and Ambassador of the International Judo Federation (IJF). The decision was made “in light of the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine”.

Putin was first appointed as Honorary President and Ambassador in 2008.  Putin’s enthusiasm for the sport can be seen in his attainment of the eighth dan (which the IJF have also revoked from Putin) in 2012, the same year in which he watched the judo matches at the London 2012 Olympics alongside David Cameron. He’s also produced a book on the history and theory of Judo and even an instructional DVD entitled “Lets Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin”. Such a move to suspend Putin’s has been a signal to other supranational judo bodies: the Russian President of the European Judo Union Sergey Soloveychik has tendered his resignation within the last few days.

Several sporting committees and federations have moved to remove Russian teams or boycott Russian events. Russians and Belarusians must compete as neutrals in the 2022 Winter Paralympics and Formula 1 whilst Russian football clubs have been banned from participating in future events (and future fixtures in Russia have been cancelled). Russian athletics competitors meanwhile cannot even compete under a neutral flag in March’s World Indoor Championships and July’s World Athletics Championships. Sanctions such as these have led to questions over whether it is right to punish the athletes for what the government have been doing.  

This is where the IJF’s announcements are significant. Firstly, they have refused to exclude any Russian athlete on the basis that athletes promote peace and international solidarity, and should not be punished for their government’s actions. Their only sanction directly impacts Putin, unlike the rest of the sanctions mentioned. As their decision was to suspend, and not completely remove, Putin as Honorary President, it makes one wonder whether their ruling really is genuine or if it is just masquerades as such.

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AUTHOR: Emily Kelso
Third year History and Archaeology student. Also a Comment Sub-Editor.

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