The deputy head of the Russian Duma Sports Committee commented after a Russian ice hockey team was removed from an Asian league
The Olympic Charter is no longer worth the paper it is written on as Russian athletes continue to face politicized bans from international sport, according to State Duma Sports Committee deputy head Sergey Burlakov.
Burlakov was commenting after Russian ice hockey team PSK Sakhalin announced that they had been removed from Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH) for the 2022/23 season, for what the club said was a decision based on “the political situation.”
The other teams in the league hail from Japan and South Korea.
The sanction is merely the latest to be applied to Russian sport because of the conflict in Ukraine.
While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has defended its decision to recommend a global ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes – claiming it is partly for their own protection – Russian officials have decried it as discriminatory and allowing politics to undermine sport.
Duma official Burlakov said that was evidently the case with Sakhalin and their Asian ban.
“To say I’m surprised is an understatement. That is, now international sports organizations can officially declare that politics governs sports,” said the Duma deputy to RIA Novosti.
“It is incomprehensible. It turns out that all sports reasoning and the Olympic Charter can be burned, since the fundamental principles of sports are no longer worth a penny.
“It is bitter to realize that even sports associations that are very interested in Russian teams are not ready to show character and not cave in under the West,” Burlakov added.
Based in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on the island of Sakhalin in the Russian far east, PSK Sakhalin was founded in 2013 with the encouragement of Russian president and noted hockey enthusiast Vladimir Putin.
Sakhalin won the ALIH title in the 2018/19 season, and shared the top prize in a Covid-affected campaign in the following year.
The ALIH was set up in 2003 and is made up of teams from South Korea and Japan, having previously featured clubs from China as well.