Russian GP cancelled as ATP, WTA suspend Kremlin Cup

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has officially cancelled Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix, while the Kremlin Cup has been removed from the tennis calendar and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has taken action as sports bodies continue to move against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Formula 1 on Friday stated it had removed the Russian GP from its 2022 calendar, stating it was “impossible” to hold the race “in the current circumstances”. This year’s edition of the Russian GP was due to take place on September 23-25 in Sochi, but pressure had been building on the motor racing championship to take a stance amid the situation in Ukraine.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said he would boycott the Russian GP if F1 chose to race there, while reigning world champion Max Verstappen said it would be wrong to race in a country that is at war.

The FIA, as motorsport’s world governing body, held the only regulatory authority to officially call off the race under force majeure. This was enacted yesterday (Tuesday) as FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem chaired an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) to address matters relating to the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

 In other decisions, the FIA ruled that no international/zone competition can take place in Russia and Belarus, which has been aiding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, until further notice. Ben Sulayem said: “As you know, the FIA is watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and I hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.

“We condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and our thoughts are with all those suffering as a result of the events in Ukraine. I would like to stress that the FIA, together with our promoters, proactively acted on this matter last week and communicated accordingly on the Formula 1, Formula 2, WTCR and the Intercontinental Drifting Cup. An updated version of the different FIA international calendars will be presented to the WMSC meeting in Bahrain for approval.”

This year’s Russian GP was due to be the last at the Sochi Autodrom (pictured). In June, Formula 1 announced that the Russian Grand Prix would move from Sochi to the Autodrom Igora Drive circuit near Saint Petersburg from 2023.

Kremlin Cup

Meanwhile, the international governing bodies of tennis have come together to issue sanctions against Russia and Belarus. The International Tennis Federation (ITF), Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), plus the sport’s four grand slams, have issued a joint statement.

From an events standpoint, the WTA and ATP Boards have made the decision to suspend this year’s edition of the Kremlin Cup, which had been scheduled for October in Moscow. The Kremlin Cup was last year held as an ATP 250 and WTA 500 event on the respective tours.

The ITF Board has made the decision to suspend the Russian Tennis Federation and Belarus Tennis Federation membership and to withdraw their entries from all ITF international team competition, such as the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup, until further notice. Russia is the reigning champion of the two showpiece national team tournaments, with this action following the cancellation of all ITF tournaments in Russia and Belarus indefinitely.

The joint statement read: “A deep sense of distress, shock and sadness has been felt across the entire tennis community following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the past week. Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, and we commend the many tennis players who have spoken out and taken action against this unacceptable act of aggression. We echo their calls for the violence to end and peace to return.”

Paralympic Games

With the Winter Paralympic Games due to commence in Beijing on Friday, the IPC has today announced measures after discussing how the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarus governments is impacting the Games and the wider Paralympic Movement.

In deciding what action to take, the IPC Board said it was guided by the IPC’s core principles, which include a commitment to political neutrality and impartiality, and an “unwavering belief in the transformative power of sport”.

The Board also needed to work within the framework of the IPC Handbook, the rules and regulations that govern the Paralympic Movement, and which are approved by the IPC membership. In that respect, it noted it is currently not a membership obligation for an IPC member to ensure compliance with the Olympic Truce.

However, within the parameters of the IPC Handbook, the IPC said it has taken the “strongest possible actions”. These include Russian and Belarusian athletes competing as neutrals under the Paralympic flag and the Paralympic anthem at Beijing 2022.

The IPC Governing Board has also decided that it will not hold any events in Russia or Belarus until further notice. This will include World and European Championships, as well as all sanctioned-level competitions such as World Series, World Cups and Grand Prix events.

The IPC Governing Board also recommends that all Para sport international federations and regional organisations follow the same approach.

Andrew Parsons, IPC president, said: “It is deeply disappointing that such action is required. However, the IPC Governing Board believes it to be necessary in order to hold governments to account for actions that impact directly on the Paralympic Movement, the Paralympic Games and Paralympic athletes. This is especially so given the origins of the Paralympic Movement, arising out of the horrific events of the Second World War.

“Now that this decision has been made, I expect all participating NPCs (National Paralympic Committees) to treat the neutral athletes as they would any other athletes at these Games, no matter how difficult this may be. Unlike their respective governments, these Paralympic athletes and officials are not the aggressors, they are here to compete in a sport event like everybody else.

“The eyes of the world will be watching the Paralympic Winter Games in the coming days. It is vital we show to world leaders through our sport that we can unite as human beings and that our true power is found when promoting peace, understanding and inclusion. This is at the core of what the Paralympic Movement does and what it stands for. We should not lose sight of this now, no matter what the circumstances.”

ASM Global

In other news, venue management, live entertainment and event strategy company ASM Global, has also spoken out on the situation in Ukraine.

In a statement issued to TheStadiumBusiness.com, the company said: “ASM Global stands with the people of Ukraine and condemns Russia’s actions. We fervently support a community’s right to freedom.  Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, their families and loved ones all around the globe.”

Image: Stolbovsky/CC BY-SA 3.0/Edited for size