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Sport stands with Ukraine as Russian events cancelled

Oak View Group, the global venue development, advisory and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries, has announced that it will not do business in or with Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

OVG has also announced that it will not be serving Russian brands in any of its venues globally, effective immediately.

“We stand with the people of Ukraine, we condemn the actions of Russia, and we hope our stance inspires others in our industry to take action where they can,” OVG’s statement said.

On Saturday evening, Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, which is owned and operated by OVG, lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag in a show of support for the country.

London’s Wembley Stadium, Munich’s Allianz Arena and Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano were among the other venues to turn blue and yellow in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

On Friday, UEFA, football’s European governing body, moved the staging of this year’s Champions League final from Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena to Paris’ Stade de France following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UEFA Executive Committee held an extraordinary meeting following what the governing body described as the “grave escalation of the security situation in Europe”.

Formula 1 also removed its Russian Grand Prix from the calendar. This year’s race had been due to take place from September 23-25 in Sochi but the motor-racing series said that it is “impossible” to stage the event in the current circumstances.

Following the actions of UEFA and F1 on Friday, a slew of other sporting bodies announced sanctions against Russia over the weekend.

The international governing bodies of judo, gymnastics, aquatics, volleyball and sport climbing all cancelled events scheduled for Russia. The International Judo Federation also stripped Vladimir Putin of his honorary presidential role.

In England, Premier League team Chelsea released a statement on Saturday announcing that its Russian owner Roman Abramovich had given the “stewardship and care” of the club to its charitable foundation.

Chelsea later released a statement describing the “situation” in Ukraine as “horrific and devastating”. The statement added: “Chelsea FC’s thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace.”

Meanwhile, FIFA, football’s global governing body, has received backlash for not imposing an outright ban on Russia competing in its competitions.

FIFA has stripped Russia of the right to play home matches, with all fixtures to be played on neutral territory and without spectators. Russia will only be permitted to play matches under the guise of the ‘Football Union of Russia (RFU)’, and no flag or anthem of Russia will be used in matches where Russian teams participate.

Russia is due to play Poland in a World Cup qualifier play-off next month and the Polish Football FA has rejected the proposal put forward by FIFA. The winner of that match will play either Sweden or Czech Republic, whose football associations have also expressed opposition to FIFA’s stance.

The English FA said in a statement yesterday that its teams will not play against Russia in any international fixtures for the foreseeable future. Russia has qualified for the UEFA Women’s Euro, which will take place in England this summer.

Image: Oak View Group