UK government wants to ban Russian athletes unless they speak out against Putin – Reuters

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Britain’s sports minister has described Russia as a “pariah on the world stage” and told politicians to make sure Russian sports stars don’t support Vladimir Putin or get banned.

The health minister has warned that Russian tennis players who support Vladimir Putin or want to wave their national flag will be banned from playing at major sporting events in England, under plans discussed by the country’s government. “pariah on the world stage”.

Nigel Huddleston, head of sports for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “under control” He expressed confidence how long his country would be sanctioned by major sports organizations and that English football would “pass” without investments from Russians like Roman Abramovich.

When asked about US Open tennis champion Daniil Medvedev, who is competing with Novak Djokovic for the men’s world number one title, Huddleston said he spoke with the All England Lawn Tennis Club, organizers of the London Grand Slam Wimbledon tournament. Work was underway on possible new entry conditions specific to Russians.

“We’re talking about this with various sports and what should be the reaction there?” The conservative businessman and politician told a committee of the Office for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“Absolutely no one flying the Russian flag should or should be allowed. But I think we need to go beyond that – I think we need reassurance that they’re not supporters of Vladimir Putin, and we’re considering what requirements we might need to get reassurance in that sense.

“In short, would I be comfortable with a Russian athlete flying the Russian flag? Number.

“We look at this question about what we do with individuals and consider the implications, because I don’t think people would very clearly accept individuals who openly display the Russian flag – especially if there is support. Putin. and his diet. »

Medvedev has no known affiliation with Putin and has expressed a desire for peace after the offensive against Ukraine began.

Speaking at a tournament in California, where he emerged as world number one for the first time in his career, the 26-year-old said he was grateful to play and would abide by all the rules set by the organizers.

Australian Open runner-up Medvedev was one of the Russian tennis players who removed his national flag from his social media accounts during the debate.

Abramovic dropped an offer to sell Chelsea under British government sanctions imposed on the billionaire over alleged close ties to Putin.

Chelsea have been placed under a special license by the government, putting the club in crisis by suspending ticket and merchandise sales, transfers and contract negotiations with players, among a series of measures.

Huddleston said what he perceives as the wealth of the sport will mean England can do it. “Excellent handling” without Russian investment.

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English football was transformed with the arrival of Abramovich in 2003, increasing the spending of top Premier League clubs and discouraging investment from other wealthy foreign owners such as Newcastle’s new Saudi-backed hierarchy.

“I don’t see any contingencies for a long enough time that we would welcome this money. [from Russian investors] back – I really can’t”, Guess Huddleston.

“I don’t think that would be morally acceptable. This may not be legally possible in many cases, as significant sanctions will still be imposed on many organizations.

“I don’t think sports fans around the world, and especially in this country, would find it acceptable. They were speaking very loudly and clearly.”

Russian football clubs and national teams have been banned from competitions organized by world governing body FIFA and European leaders UEFA.

Numerous other sports organizations have also imposed sanctions on Russian athletes.

“As long as Russia continues to be a pariah on the world stage, these sanctions will continue,” he said. said Huddleston.

“Nobody knows, but it’s Vladimir Putin controlling it. They will go on for a while and it will take some time before we accept Russia back onto the world sporting stage, including Russia’s inability to bid on major sporting events. »

Johnson condemned Putin on Tuesday and oversaw new sanctions for more than 370 Russians.