The WBSC Europe Executive Board decided on the exclusion for the 2023 competitions of all Russian and Belarusian teams, players, coaches, and officials.
The decision follows the continued illegal invasion of Ukrainian territory by Russia that began on 24 February 2022.
Back on February 28, four days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee announced its recommendation “that International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions”. Federations that are unable to do so, the IOC added, should only allow athletes from Russia or Belarus to compete under neutral status, not for their country.
Most sports federations have complied with the IOC’s recommendations. When it comes to football, the national teams of both countries were banned from qualifying for the 2022 Men’s World Cup in Qatar and the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. UEFA has excluded not only the national teams but also all Russian and Belarusian clubs from European competitions. The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne rejected Russian appeals against the exclusion. Other sports like Ice Hockey, Swimming and Athletics have done so as well.
On the other hand, in cycling, tennis, driving and judo, Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete but under neutral flags.
Sports federations are leaving open how long they will maintain the isolation of Russia and Belarus, depending largely upon how long Russia’s war on Ukraine continues. But it’s already clear that many of the bans will have an impact in 2023.
As for the WBSC, and same as in 2022, no competitions will be played on Russian and Belarusian fields.