The Boston Athletic Association has banned runners from Russia and Belarus from competing in this year's Boston Marathon. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo
April 7 (UPI) -- Runners from Russia and Belarus have been barred from competing in this year's Boston Marathon, its organizing body said, becoming the latest sporting event to prohibit athletes from the two countries over the war in Ukraine.
The Boston Athletic Association announced the ban Wednesday, saying it is applied to Russian and Belarusian citizens who are residents of either country and who were accepted to compete in the 2022 Boston Marathon scheduled for April 18.
Russian and Belarusian runners who are not residents of either country may participate in the iconic competition but they may not run under the flag of either county, it said without stating how many athletes will be affected by the ban.
"Like so many around the world, we are horrified and outraged by what we have seen and learned from the reporting in Ukraine," B.A.A. President and CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement. "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."
Russia, with the support of Belarus, invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, igniting a war that has resulted in the deaths of 1,563 Ukrainian civilians with another 2,213 injured, according to United Nations data.
Since the war began, 4.3 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their country with another 7.1 million internally displaced, representing a quarter of the country's 44 million people.
World leaders have accused Russia of committing war crimes, some even stating that they amount to genocide.
In response, Russia and Belarus have been hit with sanctions and sporting events have barred them from competition in an attempt to isolate them from the democratic world.
The invasion began days after the end of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, during which Russia competed under a neutral flag as it serves a suspension over a state-sponsored doping program during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
After the invasion began, the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board urged for the cancellation of relocation of all international federation sporting events planned for Russia and Belarus, with many doing likewise.
Their athletes were also banned from the Paralympics on the eve of the event, which ran from March 4-13.
FIFA, soccer's international governing body, with its European counterpart were swift to indefinitely suspend all Russian national teams and the International Ice Hockey Federation similarly suspended all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from competition while withdrawing the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship hosting rights from Russia.
Several other sports bodies have taken similar actions, while World Taekwondo revoked Russian President Vladimir Putin's honorary black belt and the International Jude Federation suspended his status as its honorary president.
In its statement Wednesday, the B.A.A. said its races and events will not recognize the country affiliation or flag of Russia or Belarus until further notice.
"The B.A.A. 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," the athletic association said. "The B.A.A. will provide 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."