Russia’s national boxing team will not compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo under a neutral flag, it announced Wednesday as Russian athletes grapple with the country’s four-year ban from world sporting events.
The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) banned Russia from the world's top sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with doping tests. Russian athletes who prove to WADA that they are clean will still be able to compete at these events without their flag or anthem.
The boxing team is unwilling to compete in the Olympics without the Russian flag, Umar Kremlev, the Russian Boxing Federation’s secretary general, told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
“For us, the most important thing is that our boxers are able to perform under the flag of Russia and our anthem will be heard. Without this, there is no sense in participating,” Kremlev was quoted as saying.
The boxing team is the first Russian athletic team to announce its abstention from next year’s Olympics over the WADA ruling. Russian athletes have lobbed criticism at their country’s sports authorities over what they say was an inability to punish the officials guilty of doping violations.
Kremlev added that doping is not a distinctly Russian problem, but a problem in sport everywhere. Rather than blaming the entire country, “someone specific or a specific federation” should be punished, he said.