Wednesday, February 21, 2024

FIM ban on Russians, Belarusians to continue into 2024

Russian and Belarusian riders will remain unable to take part in FIM-sanctioned events through at least the start of the 2024 racing seasons. The sanctioning body confirmed the decision after the Board of Directors met on 29/30 November followed by the FIM General Assembly last Friday, both in Liverpool ahead of the 2023 FIM Awards.

“The Board of Directors reiterated its sympathy and solidarity with all those suffering, as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” reads a statement from the Board, identical to those released after three prior 2023 meetings in February, May, and September. “After having carefully considered the latest statements of the IOC and the fact that no favourable evolution of the situation had been noted in Ukraine, the Board once again confirmed the decisions taken at its extraordinary meeting on 5 March 2022. The FIM will continue to monitor the evolution of the situation, taking into account the specificity of motorcycle sport.”

The policy was introduced just nine days after Russia launched its full-scale invasion. Created with inspiration from the International Olympic Committee’s own doctrine at the time, the rule suspended the Motorcycle Federation of Russia and the Belarusian Federation of Motorcycle Sport‘s abilities to issue FIM licences as well as those already provided, barred officials of either federations from working in FIM positions, and ended any FIM races or activities that are taking place in the two countries. As a result, riders holding licences from Russia or Belarus are not allowed to compete in races under their watch even if they oppose the war.

It is a significantly stronger restriction than the measures from the FIA. While the FIA has also ended all of its races in Russia and Belarus, drivers are allowed to enter events under FIA oversight so long as they sign a document condemning the war and agreeing to not use their country’s flags; instead, they can compete using a licence from another country or under a neutral banner. The FIA plans to maintain its rules for 2024, and both bodies revently created the FIM/FIA Joint Committee to coordinate decisions on common issues.

“The FIM maintained its position and recommendations to FMNs (National Federations) and CONUs (Continental Unions) as regards the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the General Assembly said. “The FIM continues to carefully assess the situation, considering the specificity of motorcycling sport, and stands in sympathy and solidarity with all those suffering.”

The widely condemned invasion of Ukraine is now in its 651st day. While many international sporting authorities instituted bans like the FIM at first, many have since softened their tones to consider allowing Russians to take part, usually as neutral competitors; the IOC lifted its ban in March provided they do not support the war, but have remained vague on whether they can enter the 2024 Summer Olympics.