‘Naive’ to suggest sport and politics shouldn’t mix – Salmon welcomes IPC U-turn

British Triathlon CEO Andy Salmon has welcomed the news that athletes from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to compete at this month’s Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

The International Paralympic Committee was strongly criticised when, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it initally said the athletes would be allowed to take part as neutrals.

That decision was reversed on Thursday and speaking to TRI247, Salmon said: “We really welcome the IPC’s U-turn.

“Often people say that sport and politics shouldn’t mix. But I think situations like this, it’s almost naive to suggest that they don’t have a relationship with each other.

“We were briefed by the UK government on Monday. They very much want to send a message to Putin that, based on the assumption that sport is very important to him, that sport won’t stand by and just tolerate what he’s doing in Ukraine.

Andy Salmon CEO British Triathlon (Photo: British Triathlon)
Andy Salmon CEO of British Triathlon (Photo: British Triathlon)

“So we think that today’s decision is absolutely the right thing to do. But there will be some victims in amongst that. We know people in Russia and Belarus, very good people who are wholly committed to the development of the sport in their country and doing it ethically.

“And we really feel for those people. But under the circumstances which are so serious, we absolutely stand with World Triathlon and all the other federations that have taken these steps.”

Financial support pledge

British Triathlon confirmed earlier this week that in accordance with guidance from the International Olympic Committee, the British Olympic Association (BOA) and World Triathlon, they would not be participating in events in Russia or Belarus and support the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials.

And Salmon reiterated that stance today: “You’ll have seen our statements on the website for a couple of days. We met as a board on Monday evening to discuss the situation and arrived at that statement quite quickly.

“Very much our first thoughts are for the people of Ukraine and then, from our perspective as a triathlon organisation, for the triathlon community in Ukraine.

“So we’ve written to World Triathlon and Europe Triathlon to express our solidarity with Ukraine generally, but also to pledge financial support and to ask how else we can support. I think it’s important that we ask the question more than we decide.

“But certainly we’re very keen to make a financial contribution. We understand that all the Ukrainian athletes are safe and well, but keeping them in that place will cost money, so we take our responsibility.”

[Check back next week for our wide-ranging interview with Salmon – the bigger picture of the WTCS and new paratri events, making tri more accessible for all, new formats boosting the sport, emerging stronger from COVID and more]

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