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Boston Marathon bans Russian and Belarusian competitors

Runners passing Mile 19 in Newton, Massachusetts during the October 2021 Boston Marathon. (Photo by Arnold Reinhold, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
April 07, 2022

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) — the entity in charge of organizing the Boston Marathon — has decided to ban residents of Russia and Belarus who were already accepted for the 2022 race from being able to compete at the world-famous event.

In a Wednesday press release, BAA said, “Russians and Belarusians, who were accepted into the 2022 Boston Marathon or 2022 BAA 5K as part of the open registration process and are currently residing in either country, will no longer be allowed to compete in either event.”

The decision comes about two weeks before the 2022 BAA 5K, which is scheduled for April 16, and the 2022 Boston Marathon, which is scheduled for April 18.

BAA said Russians and Belarusians who were accepted into the 2022 Boston Marathon or 2022 BAA 5K but who are not residents of either country, will still be able to compete, but they will not be able to run under the flags of either country.

BAA said, until further notice, it also will not recognize the Russian and Belarusian flags or affiliations of either country.

“Like so many around the world, we are horrified and outraged by what we have seen and learned from the reporting in Ukraine,” BAA President and CEO Tom Grilk said. “We believe that running is a global sport, and as such, we must do what we can to show our support to the people of Ukraine.”

BAA said it will make “reasonable attempts to refund the athletes from Russia or Belarus who will no longer be able to participate, within the constraints as imposed by federal and international sanctions.” That comment comes as the U.S. and several other nations have imposed broad economic sanctions against the Russian government and various Russian financial institutions. It remains to be seen whether those sanctions will allow BAA to refund Russian and Belarusian athletes.

BAA said it would also “provide all Ukrainians who are registered in the 126th Boston Marathon or the 2022 B.A.A. 5K and are unable to compete with a refund or option to defer to a future year.” The organization said it “will reach out to these athletes directly later this spring.”

BAA is not the first sports organization to impose punishments against Russian and Belarus for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced they had also suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from international competition.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) also banned all Russian and Belarusian National Teams and Clubs from participation in every age category and in all IIHF competitions or events until further notice. The hockey organization further punished Russia by withdrawing its hosting rights for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships.

Last Month, World Taekwondo revoked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Black Belt status. The tae kwon do organization also announced it would not allow the flags of Russia and Belarus at its events and would stop organizing or recognizing Taekwondo events in Russia and Belarus. However, the organization did not expressly ban any Russian and Belarusian competitors.