Russia stripped of hosting figure skating Grand Prix event

LAUSANNE (AP): Russia has been stripped of hosting an event on figure skating’s Grand Prix circuit next season because of the country’s war on Ukraine.

The International Skating Union said Monday it is looking for a replacement host for the Nov. 25-27 event after its ruling council took the Rostelecom Cup off the schedule because of Russia’s military invasion.

Last season, the Rostelecom Cup was held at Sochi and the women’s event was won by 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, whose later doping case dominated the sport at the Beijing Olympics.

“The council reaffirms its solidarity with all those affected by the conflict and reiterates its condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the strongest possible terms,” the ISU said in a statement.

Russian athletes, teams, officials and event hosts have been isolated from world sports since the invasion started Feb. 24, with governing bodies encouraged to act by the International Olympic Committee. Russia’s military ally Belarus has also been widely excluded.

However, Russia could still field candidates at the ISU’s presidential elections in June at a congress in Phuket, Thailand. Current president Jan Dijkema of the Netherlands is stepping down after six years.

The ISU said more than 20 of its member federations urged the council to decide at its online meeting Sunday to exclude Russian and Belarusian officials as candidates for any position and from attending any meetings. The ISU’s first vice president is Russian Alexander Lakernik.

However, the ruling committee “concluded that no such council decision shall be taken at this time.”

The ISU cited “the fundamental rights of ISU members” and said it was “mindful of securing the validity” of the upcoming congress.

Instead, national federations could decide in Thailand to exclude Russia and Belarus, the ISU said, noting the issue was “depending on the Ukraine situation” and future requests for a vote.

The ISU previously allocated 200,000 Swiss francs ($209,000) to help Ukrainian skaters and officials. That money will go to member federations that “welcomed Ukrainian skaters displaced by the conflict as a contribution to help them continue their skating activities,” the ISU said Monday.