The Bureau of European Aquatics (LEN) has officially banned all Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from its events, sending out a press release on Thursday while offering a message of solidarity to Ukraine.
“LEN strongly condemns the actions of the Russian government supported by Belarus, in its invasion of Ukraine,” the organization said. “This act of war has shattered the lives of Ukrainian citizens and is totally against the spirit of sport.”
The LEN says that Russian and Belarusian athletes, teams and officials won’t be invited to any of its events until further notice, following the recommendations made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday.
“This is in line with recommendations of the International Olympic Committee and aims to overcome practical conditions related to the decisions of certain countries, as well as to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all athletes. LEN is committed to continue its work with FINA, the world aquatic governing body, to implement our respective positions and hope for a better future.”
As for FINA, the international governing body for aquatic sports has yet to follow suit and ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from its competitions. FINA has pulled the 2022 World Junior Championships out of Kazan, along with removing all of its other aquatic events scheduled to take place in Russia this year, except for the Short Course World Championships, which are slated to run in Kazan in December.
As a result of SC Worlds having yet to be moved, several national swimming federations have pulled their teams out of the meet if it were to be held in Russia.
The list of LEN events for 2022 includes the European Aquatics Championships in Rome, Italy, August 10-20, and the European Junior Swimming Championships in Bucharest, Romania, July 4-9.
LEN also announced that it will support a humanitarian initiative by the artistic swimming and diving federations in Croatia that will host Ukrainian athletes and family members as refugees.
“This project, which is supported by FINA, will allow athletes to continue training and representing Ukraine at international events,” LEN said. “This initiative is supported by Croatia’s Ministry of Sport and Tourism and hosts will include Zagreb, Zadar, Rijeka, and others.”
The LEN announcement came right around the same time that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) declared that Russian and Belarusian athletes would be denied entry into the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Games. Initially, the IPC said the athletes could compete as neutrals under the Paralympic flag, but numerous nations and athletes threatened to withdraw if that decision were to hold up.