Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said on Wednesday that Russia would invite “friendly countries” to take part in its national university games, at a time when its own athletes remain sidelined from competitions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
“This year we are holding the All-Russian Universiade in early July, where we will invite universities from countries that are friendly to us,” TASS news agency quoted Matytsin as saying.
Matytsin – who last year vacated his position as president of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) over a court ruling on Russian doping violations – did not specify which countries would be invited to the event, which had been planned prior to Russia sending troops into Ukraine.
Following Russia’s military intervention, for which Belarus has been a key staging area, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that international federations bar both Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing.
FISU has barred Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from taking part in its events until at least the end of the year. It has also stripped Russia and Belarus of three events scheduled to take place in 2022.
It remains unclear if Russia, which hosted the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, will be allowed to host the 2023 edition of the event in Yekaterinburg as previously planned.
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Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in a special operation to its southern neighbour to root out dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw.