The governing body of the sport of weightlifting has added its voice to the growing international outcry against Russia’s attack on Ukraine. On Mar. 3, 2022, the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) Executive Board issued a press release in which the organization declared its intent to penalize both Russia and Belarus for the invasion of Ukraine.
In accordance with “the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) response to the current crisis” — referring to a Feb. 28, 2022 statement by the IOC in which they strongly recommended no International Sports Federation permit the attendance of Russian athletes — the IWF declared that they have “taken the decision to suspend the participation of all athletes, team officials and technical officials from Russia and Belarus from any international or continental weightlifting event until further notice.”
Additionally, the IWF announced that no sanctioned competitions will be held in either Russia or Belarus until further notice. Beyond the attendance prohibitions placed against both countries, the IWF also says it will take decisive action to assist the Ukrainian Weightlifting Federation (UWF) by providing “financial and training support…and work with the UWF to rebuild any facilities impacted.”
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The IWF’s actions against Russia and Belarus mark the latest in a string of passionate protests from the international community at large. On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia began what it has called a “special military operation” against Ukraine, involving large-scale combat and artillery attacks. The invasion is considered by some officials to be the largest conventional military attack in Europe since World War II.
The IWF’s decision to suspend Russian and Belarusian athletes indefinitely comes amid vocal outcry from many prominent voices in the sport. Athletes like three-time European Champion Dmytro Chumak of Ukraine and 2008 Olympic silver medalist from Russia Dmitry Klokov are among the voices protesting the actions of the Russian Federation.
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With the Executive Board’s suspension in effect, several high-level competitors from both Russia and Belarus are unlikely to make appearances at any sanctioned competition in 2022:
- Eduard Ziaziulin (+109KG, BLR) — 2021 World Championships bronze medalist in the snatch.
- Darya Naumava (76KG, BLR) — 2020 Tokyo Olympics, fifth place.
- Yauheni Tsikhantsou (96/102KG, BLR) — 2019 World Championships gold medalist in the total, 2020 Tokyo Olympian.
- Zulfat Garaev (67KG, RUS) — 2021 World Championships gold medalist in the snatch.
- Artem Okulov (89KG, RUS) — 2021 World Championships gold medalist in the clean & jerk, 2015 World Champion.
- Iana Sotieva (76KG, RUS) — 2021 World Championships bronze medalist in the total.
- Daria Akhmerova (87KG, RUS) — 2021 World Championships bronze medalist in the clean & jerk.
The 2021 World Weightlifting Championships (WWC) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan was the first event since the 2015 WWC that Russia maintained a significant competitive presence at. The Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF) won 11 medals in the snatch and clean & jerk, as well as three medals in the total (the sum of both movements).
The IWF Executive Board indicated in their statement that they are “closely monitoring the evolution of the situation…and may adapt or eventually lift the exceptional measures [against Russia and Belarus].”
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