Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Ukraine withdrew from the Muay Thai world youth championship after learning Russia would participate

The decision by the Ukrainian team to withdrew from the upcoming IFMA Youth World Championship is unfortunate, says Tatyana Yefimova, sports director of the Russian Muay Thai Federation (RMF), who added that it will lead to children being punished due to political disagreements.

Russia will compete at the upcoming event despite many of the country's sportspeople being impacted by sanctions placed by various sporting federations in the wake of the Russia's military campaign - a situation which led to the withdrawal of the Ukrainian delegation.

But according to Yefimova, the decision serves no purpose other than to restrict the opportunities available for Ukrainian competitors.

"How can I comment on this? It is their choice and we can only regret that in their opinion this decision should go to children as well," Yefimova said via TASS.

"The international federation [IFMA] made it clear earlier that politics should be politics, but children should not suffer from it and this is why they cleared Russia and Belarus to participate in the international tournament."

However, Belarus has also pulled out of the event citing prohibitive costs.

Yefimova added: "Our athletes will be competing at the tournament under the flag of the [Russian Muay Thai] Federation, because until the end of the year we have to compete under a neutral flag one way or the other due to a decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"Our adult team was barred from the World Championship in May, but we were granted permission to enter our children's team [for the 2022 IFMA Youth World Championship]."

Yefimova also noted that security guarantees have been provided for Russia's participants, per an official letter received from the International Federation of Muay Thai Associations.

This comes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended in February that Russian athletes be banned from international competition.

In a statement posted to an official Ukrainian government website, Ukraine explained the decision to pull out of the tournament.

"Athletes of the aggressor countries were allowed to participate in the world championship among juniors and young men under the banner of the International Federation of Muay Thai Associations, despite the appeal of the Ukrainian Muay Thai Boxing Federation to exclude representatives of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus from participating in international sports events," the statement read. 

"Due to this position of the international federation, the Muay Thai Thai boxing team of Ukraine refuses to participate in the World Championship, which is scheduled for August 9-21, 2022 in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).

"From the first days of the full-scale aggression, the Ukrainian Muay Thai Boxing Federation has been demanding the complete isolation of Russians and Belarusians from world sports and depriving their athletes of the right to participate in international competitions."

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