Russia's invasion of Ukraine is causing ripples throughout the sports world
Canadian ski cross, aerials teams won't compete at World Cup events in Russia
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Russia's invasion of Ukraine is affecting sports globally
In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia during the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. In 2014, Russia waited six days after the closing ceremony of the Sochi Games to attack Crimea. Now, another six days after the conclusion of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, Russia has stormed Ukraine.
The latest invasion is already causing ripples throughout the sports world. Soccer's Champions League final, scheduled for May in St. Petersburg, was reportedly pulled from the Russian city in response to the attack on Ukraine, among multiple other events that are now either in peril or scrapped entirely.
Winter sports World Cups in ski cross, aerials and parallel slalom snowboarding were scheduled to take place across Russia this week. The International Ski Federation (FIS) told CBC Sports the first two will go ahead as planned for now after athletes travelled directly from the Beijing Olympics. The snowboard event is listed as "cancelled" on the FIS website.
If the events do move forward, Canadians won't be involved. Alpine Canada, which oversees the ski cross team, told CBC Sports it was pulling its 15 athletes from the event and working with the ministers of global affairs and sports to secure them flights home as soon as possible.
The Canadian aerials team also didn't go to Russia. The cross-country team said it won't attend its late-March event in Russia following discussion with the federal government.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) each condemned Russia's attack, calling it a "breach of the Olympic truce" that runs from seven days before the Olympics to seven days after the Paralympics and is meant to promote "peace, dialogue and reconciliation." Russia has now breached that truce three times in 14 years.
The IPC also expressed concern for Ukrainian athletes who were slated to compete in China.
"Getting the team to Beijing is going to be a mammoth challenge," IPC president Andrew Parsons said after discussions with a Ukrainian Paralympic official. In the summer, three Afghanistan athletes were able to make it to the Tokyo Paralympics with international help shortly after the Taliban's takeover.
For the IOC, the statement rings a little hollow. It has been weak in sanctioning Russia for its state-run doping program dating back to 2014, allowing the country's athletes to continue competing as the "Russian Olympic Committee," though Russia's flag and anthem were both banned. The same will apply for the upcoming Paralympics, except for the change to "Russian Paralympic Committee."
The biggest controversy of the Beijing Olympics happened when 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for a banned substance after helping the ROC win gold in the team event. The IOC says it is waiting for the full World Anti-Doping Agency investigation before it possibly strips the medal.
Despite the ongoing doping scandal, Russian president Vladimir Putin was allowed to attend the opening ceremony. Hours before it began, he and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the leader of the host country, presented a unified front against the U.S. and its allies in a joint press conference.
There's a new No. 1 in men's tennis. For the first time in two years, Novak Djokovic has been supplanted atop the ATP rankings. Over the course of his career, Djokovic has been ranked No. 1 for 361 weeks (not consecutively), the most for any male since computerized rankings began in 1973. The Serb was passed by Russia's Daniil Medvedev after losing his quarter-final match in straight sets to Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely at the Dubai Championships. Djokovic was unable to defend his Australian Open title last month after he was deported from the country for being unvaccinated, and Dubai marked his first tournament back in action. Elsewhere, Canada's Denis Shapovalov downed No. 99 Ricardas Berankis to secure his spot in the semifinal, where he'll meet Vesely. He had upended Japan's Taro Daniel to reach the quarter-finals. Read more about Djokovic's drop and Shapovalov's latest victory here.
Major League Baseball is threatening the start of the season. The league said yesterday that games would begin to be cancelled, starting with opening day on March 31, if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't struck by Monday. The sides held their most productive meetings to date this week in Florida, though there still hasn't been significant movement from either side. Missed games would also mean missed paycheques for players, who accrue 1/162nd of their salary daily. They countered by saying they wouldn't agree to an expanded post-season and uniform ads if owners lock them out of the start of the season, and they were back at the table for more negotiations today. Read the latest on MLB's labour talks here.
Canada's Para ice hockey team is out for revenge. Tyler McGregor, named captain today, is one of nine returning players from the 2018 squad that lost the gold-medal game against the U.S. after surrendering the equalizer with less than 40 seconds remaining before falling in OT. "It's something that took a long time to move past," McGregor said. Well, he'll have his chance to do just that when Canada opens its Paralympic tournament against the Americans on March 5. The rivals could meet again in the final one week later. Read more about how the 2018 loss broke McGregor's heart in this story by CBC Sports contributor Ben Forrest.
You're up to speed. Talk to you tomorrow.