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Powerboats & Politics

Chris Davies on 28th February 2022

There is a saying that sport and politics should not mix, but the way the world has changed over the past week means it’s hard to simply ignore the situation in Ukraine.

The Lithuanian Motorboat Federation have now asked the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) to express their official position on the matter as soon as possible.


The Lithuanian Motorboat Federation have also taken these tough decisions:

  • Lithuanian athletes are prohibited from participating in competitions in which athletes from the Russian Federation will be allowed to participate.
  • According to the recommendations of the Lithuanian Ministry of Education Science and Sports, athletes and citizens of the Russian Federation will not be able to participate in competitions organized on the territory of Lithuania.

They would also like to inform the athletes of the Federation of Ukraine that the Lithuanian Motorboat Federation are ready to provide all the necessary infrastructure to train and store their racing equipment safely. The Lithuanian government is also ready to provide free education for children of Ukrainian athletes in schools or kindergartens.

The President of the Lithuanian Motorboat Federation, Edgaras Riabko stated

With this action we express the support for the free state of Ukraine and all Ukrainians who are the fighting heroes of this day.

Other countries have also adopted a similar sporting stance. The Czech Republic and Sweden have joined Poland and refuse to play Russia in the World Cup play-offs. Other sports have also taken a stand such as Formula One motor racing cancelling the Russian Grand Prix scheduled to take place in Sochi on September 25th.

Would banning Russians from taking part in powerboat racing make a difference?

This week sees the opening round of the UIM XCat World Championship in Fujairah and amongst those competing is the Russian New Star Team. Will they be allowed to race?

As we’ve seen on the TV news many Russians are against the invasion of Ukraine and, despite the near certainty of being arrested, they have protested in substantial numbers. The enemy here is Putin, not the Russian people, which is what makes the UIM’s choice so difficult.

The UIM Secretary General Thomas Kurth told PRW

Here at the UIM we are all shocked by what has happened in Ukraine over the past few days. The UIM Leadership is analysing the current situation and we will shortly issue a statement.

That statement needs to be sent strongly and clearly across the board that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is so far beyond what is acceptable that powerboat racing needs to make a stand. The UIM and race organisers need to collectively work together to present a united front. What action can be taken, in whatever small a way, must help to deter Putin from the path he has taken. I certainly don’t envy the UIM’s role but hope that they have the resolve to do what needs to be done.

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