Competition Bans for Russia Run From Cat Shows to Gymnastics as List Grows

Amid international pushback for its attack on Ukraine, Russia has been banned from competitions ranging from gymnastics to cat shows.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) announced on Friday that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials would not be permitted to participate in competitions for the time being.

The International Cat Federation, also called Fédération Internationale Féline, or FIFe, made a similar announcement. No Russian-bred cats can be imported or registered in any FIFe pedigree book and no cats belonging to someone living in Russia can be entered in any FIFe competition outside the nation, NBC reported.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has left many sports organizers and governing bodies weighing how to handle upcoming competitions where Russian athletes are due to compete. The gymnastics and cat show bans are two of the newest additions on a growing list of restrictions against Russian participation.

The FIG said in a press release that its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes came during an emergency meeting that was called to "discuss the necessity of adopting further emergency measures against Russia and Belarus."

The federation previously announced that Russian and Belarusian flags and anthems would not be allowed to be displayed or played at FIG events for the time being. All FIG World Cup, World Challenge Cup and other FIG-sanctioned events that were scheduled to take place in Russia or Belarus were canceled.

Russia Sports Bans
Amid international pushback for its attack on Ukraine, Russia has been banned from competitions ranging from gymnastics to cat shows. Above, Everton players hold Ukrainian flags before the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, on February 26, 2022. Jon Super/AP Photo

The new restriction against participation bars the athletes from competing in the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships due to begin next week in Baku, Azerbaijan, the release said.

The moves "constitute preventive measures aiming at preserving the integrity of Gymnastics, the safety and integrity of members and all athletes and participants, and at fighting against all forms of violence and of sports injustice," the FIG release said.

The FIFe, in its announcement, said that it was "shocked and horrified" by Russia's invasion. The restrictions extend through May 31, after which they will be reviewed.

"Many innocent people died, many more are wounded and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are forced to flee their homes to save their lives. We can all witness the destruction and chaos caused by this unprecedented act of aggression," the release said.

It added that the FIFe board has also decided to funnel part of its budget toward cat breeders and fanciers in Ukraine.

Russia is also facing bans and restrictions in curling, tennis, ice hockey, motorsports and soccer, including upcoming qualifying matches for the men's FIFA World Cup.

The 2022 Winter Paralympics, which opened Friday in Beijing, are not exempt from the restrictions. Though organizers originally said that Russian and Belarusian athletes could compete as "neutral" athletes in the Games, they later decided to send them home in a decision that the Russian Paralympic Committee called "absolutely politicized," the Associated Press reported.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Athletics Federation for comment.

Update 3/4/22, 12:58 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.