Esports federation votes to allow Russian flag at events

Russian Esports teams had been forbidden from competing alongside their own flag since April 2022

The Russian Esports Federation said on Monday that the International Esports Federation (IESF) – the governing body that sanctions competitive video game competitions – has voted to allow Russian teams and players to compete under their own flag and anthem at forthcoming events.

“Certainly, this is great news,” Dmitry Smith, president of the Russian Esports Federation, said in a statement posted to the organization’s website on Monday. “In our understanding, sport should unite, and any form of discrimination against athletes based on nationality and any other grounds is unacceptable.”

Smith added that the Russian Esports Federation is “glad that we were able to achieve the cancellation of the previous decision, and our team will finally compete under its own flag.”

It was also noted that a proposal from the Ukrainian Esports Federation to suspend Russia’s membership in the international federation was rejected.

According to Smith’s statement, 32 Esports delegates were in favor of withdrawing the ban on Russian players competing under their own flag and with their own national anthem. 13 delegates voted against the decision, while another 25 abstained from voting. The move rescinds a prior vote held by the International Esports Federation on April 8, 2022, to restrict Russian teams and players from performing alongside national symbols like flags and anthems.

The collective decision made by the Esports governing body last year mirrors several restrictions and sanctions that have been placed on Russian sports in the wake of Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine last year.

Russia’s club and international football teams, for example, remain on the sidelines of the sport’s major competitions after UEFA and FIFA, the bodies that oversee football in Europe and internationally, adopted restrictions recommended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Last month, the IOC formally invited 203 countries to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, notably excluding both Russia and Belarus.

The 2023 IESF World Esports Championships are currently taking place in the Romanian city of Iasi. The event is scheduled to run until September 3.

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