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F1 terminates Russian GP contract, Kazan’s Special Olympics cancelled

Formula 1 has called an end to its Russian Grand Prix by announcing the termination of its contract with race promoter, Rosgonki, a move that means the motor-racing championship scraps plans to shift the event to Saint Petersburg from 2023.

The announcement, the latest sporting sanction against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, comes after the International Automobile Federation (FIA) this week officially cancelled this year’s Russian GP.

On February 25, F1 announced 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.

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 on 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.

Formula 1 has now taken a further step, announcing in a brief statement: “Formula 1 can confirm it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter. It means that Russia will no longer have a race in the future.”

In June, Formula 1 announced that the Russian GP would move from Sochi to the Autodrom Igora Drive circuit (pictured) near Saint Petersburg from 2023. In February 2017, F1 agreed a five-year extension to the Russian GP’s race deal, taking it through to 2025.

Russia’s initial race contract, running from 2014 to 2020, was signed by then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and F1’s chief executive at the time, Bernie Ecclestone, back in 2010. The grand prix was intended to be a legacy element of Sochi’s 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the circuit weaving its way through the Olympic Park.

Special Olympics

In other news, Kazan’s 2023 Special Olympics World Winter Games has been cancelled.

The Games were due to commence in the Russian city on January 21 next year, but Special Olympics International said the event, which last took place in 2017 in Graz/Schladming (Austria), will no longer take place.

The organisation, which focuses on people with intellectual disabilities around the world, said in a statement: “We can no longer ensure the effectiveness of the World Winter Games in Kazan or the safety of our athletes and community.

“The horrific violence in Ukraine, the extensive sanctions implemented by the international community, and the uncertainty and fear being experienced around the world make it impossible to proceed.

“We are devastated by the fear and destruction being experienced by our athletes and community in Ukraine. Persons with an intellectual disability are suffering disproportionately, unfairly, and tragically in this war, as they have during the pandemic. We join our voices to millions around the world demanding peace and an end to violence immediately.”

Football in Belarus

UEFA has added to its sanctions placed on Russia by announcing measures for football in Belarus.

The Executive Committee of European football’s governing body has decided that all Belarusian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues with immediate effect.

Furthermore, no spectators shall be permitted to attend matches in which the teams from Belarus, which Russia has used as a staging ground for its invasion of Ukraine, feature as host.

UEFA and FIFA have already banned all Russian teams from participating in their competitions. In a joint statement released on Monday, FIFA and UEFA announced that all Russian national teams and clubs will be suspended from their respective competitions “until further notice”.

The Russian Football Union announced yesterday (Thursday) that it will appeal the rulings at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin stated there is no timeline in place for Russia’s possible readmittance.

“At this moment, impossible to say,” said Ceferin. “At this time our decision was the only right decision, a unanimous decision from the executive directors of UEFA. What happens tomorrow, no one knows.”

Image: Igora Drive