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UK Sport Minister: Russian Athletes Should Denounce Putin or Face Bans from Competing

“Advantage McCarthyism…”

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Nigel Huddleston MP, the British Minister for Sport, has suggested that Russian athletes may have to denounce Vladimir Putin to be allowed to play in competitions in the United Kingdom.

Speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Huddleston said that the British government was looking into what to do with Russian and Belarusian athletes, who already have to compete under a neutral flag in sports competitions in the UK and across the world.

“Absolutely, nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled [to take part], many sports people have multiple or dual citizenships. Many of us would be willing and able to compete as non-aligned, non-flag-bearing entities, but I think it needs to go beyond that,” Huddleston said in a response to a question from Steve Brine MP.

“We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Vladimir Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try and get some assurances along those lines. In short, would I be comfortable with a Russian athlete flying the Russian flag? No,” Huddleston added.

Brine brought up the case of current tennis world number one Daniil Medvedev, and compared the banning of Novak Djokovic from Australia over the covid vaccine to Medvedev’s relatively neutral stance on the conflict in Ukraine. “Invading a sovereign country in hostile act, if you’re a supporter of that country, that would be a problem wouldn’t it?” Brine asked.

“I think you’ve just answered your own question. I don’t think that would be acceptable,” Huddleston replied.

Later reports suggested that this was a “live debate” within the UK government, as many inside the government recognised a desire not to punish all Russians, and that denouncing Putin may put the athletes in danger at home.

Marta Kostyuk, a Ukrainian tennis player, had previously attacked Russian players at the Indian Wells Open last week, who said that their presence at the tournament “really hurt” her. “You cannot be neutral in this,” Kostyuk said.

“These ‘no war’ statements hurt me because they have no substance. Seeing players [from Russia] on-site really hurts me. And seeing them having the only problem not being able to transfer the money and stuff – that’s what they are talking about – this is unacceptable for me,” she added.

“What’s going on is not a secret. You don’t have to be into politics to know what’s going on, to know who invaded who, who is bombing who.”

However, Huddleston’s comments also resulted in serious backlash from many others online, including former MP George Galloway, who quipped that the decision if gone ahead with would result in “Advantage McCarthyism,” with others highlighting that no other athletes from repressive regimes are forced to attack their governments in order to play.

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Jack Hadfield
Written By

Jack Hadfield is the Associate Editor at Valiant News. An investigative reporter from the UK, and the director and presenter of "Destination Dover: Migrants in the Channel, his work has appeared in such sites as Breitbart and The Political Insider. You can follow him on Gab @JH, on Telegram @JackHadders, or see his other social media by visiting

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