Ukraine on Monday pulled its team from the World Judo Championships in Qatar over the presence of Russian athletes it argued were active soldiers.

The International Judo Federation (IJF) on Sunday gave judokas from Russia and Belarus the green light to compete at the May 7-14 championships in Doha on the proviso they compete as individual neutral athletes.

But the Ukrainian judo federation said in a statement that “the majority of the (Russian) team are athletes who are active servicemen of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, part of the army that attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2022”.

A Russian army, the federation said, that “is still waging a brutal full-scale war on our territory, shelling Ukrainian cities, civilian homes every day, killing civilians and children”.

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“Instead, more than 250 Ukrainian athletes have given their lives defending the country. Among them are representatives of judo.”

The federation added: “We do not see here neutrality, equal conditions and a ‘bridge to peace’ as stated in the IJF Resolution on the participation of Russian and Belarusian teams in the World Championships in Doha.

“Moreover, we see here a decision that contradicts the latest recommendations of the International Olympic Committee of March 28, 2023, where the IOC says that the status of neutral athletes can only be granted to those athletes who are not military personnel.”

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