Gymnastics congress moved to allow Russian and Belarusian officials to attend

The Norwegian Gymnastics Federation withdrew as hosts to avoid welcoming ‘any officials or delegates from Russia or Belarus’.

By Press Association Published: 28 July 2022 - 12.30am

The governing body of competitive gymnastics has announced it will move its annual congress out of Norway to allow officials from Russia and Belarus to attend.

It comes after the Norwegian Gymnastics Federation withdrew as hosts for the International Gymnastics Federation’s (FIG) 84th Congress to avoid welcoming representatives from either country.

In a statement on Wednesday, FIG said it was searching for another host for the event which had been due to take place in Sandefjord, Norway, in October.

The hands of an athlete as she prepares to use the uneven bars in a gymnastics training session ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England
FIG suspended gymnasts from Russia and Belarus in March but not officials (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

The governing body for the sport said it was informed by the Norwegian Gymnastics Federation it was “not in a position to host the Congress this year, as it must comply with the recommendations from the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Equality to not welcome any officials or delegates from Russia or Belarus to events in the country”.

“The FIG has been working to quickly find another national federation to host the 2022 Congress,” it added.

“The FIG will announce the new location and dates as soon as they are approved by the Executive Committee.”

FIG suspended Russian and Belarusian gymnasts from competing in March, less than two weeks after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. But it has not suspended officials from the two countries.

An athlete from India prepares her hands before using the uneven bars in a gymnastics training session ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England
FIG is searching for somewhere else to host the annual congress after Norway withdrew as hosts (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Belarusian official Nellie Kim is one of the three FIG vice-presidents and Russia’s Vassily Titov is a board member, while both countries have officials on various influential committees.

Earlier this year FIG issued Russian artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak with a one-year ban for wearing the letter “Z” in support of his country’s invasion of Ukraine on his singlet during the competition and the award ceremony at the FIG Apparatus World Cup in Doha.

The letter has been seen daubed on the sides of Russian tanks, and has come to be regarded as a sign of support for the invasion.

Russian gymnast David Belyavskiy competes on the Still Rings at the 2015 World Gymnastic Championships in Glasgow
Russian gymnast David Belyavskiy competes on the Still Rings at the 2015 World Gymnastic Championships in Glasgow (Danny Lawson/PA)

The 20-year-old’s move was condemned as “shocking behaviour” by the International Gymnastics Federation.

Kulik was ordered to return his bronze medal which he earned in the parallel bars – an event won by Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun – as well as the prize money of 500 Swiss franc (£428).

The gymnast said he had no regrets over wearing the pro-war symbol on the podium and would do it again.

Prior to the event in Doha, the FIG had announced that all Russian gymnasts and officials would be banned from international events from March 7 until further notice in line with global sporting sanctions against the country.

BT Sport Monthly Pass

Join the home of live sport for just £25 per month. Get instant access to the BT Sport app, with no contract and no BT broadband required.