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Fedor Emelianenko Wants The IMMAF Suspension On Russian Athletes To End

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Russian mixed martial arts legend and multi-promotion world champion Fedor Emelianenko has insisted that the global sports community must give the green light to Russian athletes to compete in events unbounded by sociopolitical concerns.

The 46-year-old former PRIDE heavyweight champion, who is expected to fight for the last time in his legendary career in the coming months, was previously in talks to hold his retirement fight in Moscow’s Red Square for Bellator MMA, withdrew and resumed the plan shortly after the start of Russian military action in Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine have been embroiled in ongoing tensions, resulting in multiple sports sanctions imposed on the country, with many of its athletes restricted from competing internationally.

Russian athletes are hostages of socio-political problems between states: Fedor Emelianenko

The Russian Mixed Martial Arts Union president, Emelianenko, has called on the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) to lift the embargo on Russian athletes to allow them to compete at the 2023 championships, the competition which is largest in the world for MMA fans.

Speaking to TASS, a Russian news agency, Emelianenko said that young fighters should not be held hostage by events beyond their control.

“Until recently, sport was out of politics, and now the situation has developed that talented Russian athletes are hostages of socio-political problems between states. Hopes, plans and colossal efforts have been reduced to zero, faith in the justice of the main principles of Olympism has been lost. We are sure that athletes should compete with worthy opponents, because this is the most important thing for the development of sports. And our team is one of the strongest in the world.”

“A whole competitive and constantly developing team has dropped out of the world MMA. We would like to note that this year the Russian national team was formed as part of the national championship and is ready to take part in all international competitions next year,” he added. [H/T MMA News]

Emelianenko’s request comes after the IMMAF banned wrestlers from Russia and Belarus in March, following the lead of other sports federations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IMMAF wrote at the time that it had taken these steps “with great sadness” but said it took the step as a measure of solidarity with Ukraine.

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