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Russian judokas to skip Paris Olympics

The IOC issued invitations to Valery Yendovitsky, Makhamdbek Makhamadbekov, Elis Startseva, and Dali Liluashvili

MOSCOW, June 28. /TASS/. Russian judokas, who have been invited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take part in the Olympic Summer Games, will not go to Paris, President of the Russian Judo Federation Sergey Soloveichik said.

The IOC issued invitations to Valery Yendovitsky, Makhamdbek Makhamadbekov, Elis Startseva, and Dali Liluashvili.

"Out of seventeen judokas, who have earned Olympic ratings, the IOC invited only four. The rest have to stay home. In such a situation, the Russian Judo Federation made a unanimous decision: Russia’s national judo team will not accept the humiliating terms and will not compete at the Paris Games as suggested by the International Olympic Committee officials," he said.

"We are one of the world’s strongest national federations and teams. We have been implementing the IOC’s requirements as long as they were acceptable for us and said from the very beginning that we will not compromise and will not sign any declaration discrediting the policy of our country. The Russian Judo Federation condemns the unsportsmanlike method of qualification, which is geared to undermine the principles of unity of our team and break the spirit of Russian athletes. I am convinced that such IOC’s actions ruin the confidence in the Olympic movement as such and discredit the status of the Olympic Games as the most important sports event," he stressed.

According to Soloveichik, it is obvious for all that judo competitions without Russian athletes will be inadequate and would-be champions will not be happy to win this "weakened" tournament. "The International Olympic Committee has announced the list of Russian judokas who have been cleared for participating in the Olympic Games in Paris. It includes only four our athletes. Till the very last moment, we hoped that common sense and the striving to hold normal Olympic Games involving the strongest athletes, including from Russia and Belarus, would win the upper hand over political intrigues. Everyone who loves sport and knows the Olympic principles understands that the strongest can be determined only in a honest competition of equal athletes," he said.

"We, the Russian Judo Federation, athletes, and society, love sport and cherish traditions. We believe that sooner or later common sense will prevail in the Olympic movement. Obviously, a reform is badly needed in the IOC. We hope that these inadequate in all senses Games in Paris will help all conscious people in all countries open up their eyes and that they will give an impetus to reforms. The Olympic traditions will be revived to be a guide in honest competition, a guarantee of clean sport, independence from political influences, and a unifying factor for millions of people across the globe," he stressed.