Letting Russian and Belarussian athletes compete is not what’s best, for gymnastics or for peace — Other gym news — Thoughts from Kaia Tanskanen via Inside Gymnastics
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, July 22, 2023
Happy Gymnastics Saturday! This week, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) lifted sanctions on Russia and Belarus. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, this action will allow Russian and Belarussian gymnasts to compete as “individual neutral athletes” at world and continental championships and to qualify from those for the Olympics.
The ultimate decision to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete at the Olympics, notes the FIG, is ultimately up to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Way to pass the buck, folks.
Then FIG president Morinari Watanabe had the nerve to say that the FIG, in this decision, “is sending a message to the world that Gymnastics is seeking peace.”
The FIG initially imposed sanctions on the two countries on Feb. 26, 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — which was aided by Belarus — two days prior. The use of national anthems and flags was restricted. That was the right decision.
On March 7, 2022, Russian and Belarussian athletes were banned from FIG competition “until further notice.” That was after a Russian gymnast, Ivan Kuliak, stood on the podium at the Doha World Cup in late February 2022 after winning bronze in the parallel bars final with a “Z” (a symbol signifying fidelity to Vladimir Putin and support for the Russian invasion) taped to his chest. He was right next to Ukrainian gold medalist Ilia Kovtun, who did not acknowledge Kuliak.
The U.S. stands on shaky ground condemning countries that have invaded others and continued to compete in international sporting events. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics over Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan but blithely hosted the Olympics in Salt Lake City mere months after its own invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The FIG never said anything about the presence of the U.S. military over the years in Central America, Kuwait or Iraq, much less Afghanistan.
But the FIG was right to take action against Russia and Belarus. If anything, I wish it would pay more attention to geopolitics when planning competitions, and that includes its dealings with the U.S. I wish the FIG would hold its ground until after the Paris Olympics. Conditions in Ukraine remain dire, and I don’t for a second believe that all Russian and Belarussian athletes would hold to the strictures of neutrality imposed by the FIG. Ukrainian gymnasts have had their training interrupted and, in most cases, compromised by the war; they will be at a distinct disadvantage in international competition against their invaders next year, and that is not fair to them.
I believe sports can be a balm for political differences, but I do not believe that they should be used to mitigate them.
For the WNBA’s 27th season, save 27% on your subscription to The Next!
The WNBA playoffs are here, and our staff of writers is working hard to bring you everything you need to know about every team in the league. Get started with a paid subscription, which helps support all of our writers, editors and photographers who work tirelessly to bring you this coverage, and save 27%!
Other gym news
Here’s all the information for the upcoming U.S. Classic, including broadcast and streaming info and times for each session.
Suni Lee will compete in the all-around (AA) at the U.S. Classic, according to this updated draw.
Luisa Blanco won the AA at the Colombian championships, reports The Gymternet.
College Gym News has predictions for the upcoming NCAA season, a commentary on the two-pass floor routine becoming the NCAA norm (nearly 60% of all floor routines!), and all the headlines from the week.
Sydney Barros is taking a year to recover from a knee injury that she sustained during the Central American and Caribbean Games before competing for UCLA next season. She will no longer compete elite for Puerto Rico or vie for the Olympics.
Zoe Miller said in an Instagram story that she will defer her enrollment at LSU for a year to train for the Olympics.
Michigan State hired Rachel Donovan as an assistant coach.
Brown hired Sophia Hyderally as an assistant coach.
Want women’s hockey content? Subscribe to The Ice Garden!
Here at The IX, we’re collaborating with The Ice Garden to bring you Hockey Friday. And if you want the women’s hockey goodness 24/7? Well, you should subscribe to The Ice Garden now!
Five at The IX: Kaia Tanskanen with Inside Gymnastics
Inside Gymnastics interviewed Finnish gymnast Kaia Tanskanen about her plans for worlds and the Olympics. She is a Missouri commit but will defer for a year to train for Paris.
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer|
|By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer|
|By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next|
|By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX|
|By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden|
|By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer|