Many athletic organizations are distancing themselves from Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. But now, Russian President Vladimir Putin himself is the target.
World Taekwondo announced it’s withdrawing the honorary black belt it gave to Putin in November 2013. Additionally, the taekwondo governing body said no national flags or anthems from Russia or its ally Belarus will be displayed or played during the organization’s events.
World Taekwondo and the European Taekwondo Union also said no events will be recognized or held in Russia and Belarus.
“World Taekwondo strongly condemns the brutal attacks on innocent lives in Ukraine, which go against the World Taekwondo vision of ‘Peace is More Precious than Triumph’ and the World Taekwondo values of respect and tolerance,” World Taekwondo said in a statement.
The move by World Taekwondo comes as many other businesses, sporting events and other institutions work to sever ties with Russia, Putin, and any organizations with connections to them.
Putin is known to be a fan of martial arts, particularly judo. The Russian president even co-wrote a book about it: “Judo: History, Theory, Practice.”
The judo community also took steps to distance itself from Putin. The International Judo Federation suspended his status as the organization’s honorary president and ambassador, according to The Associated Press. The federation also canceled the sport’s Grand Slam set to take place in May in Kazan, Russia, as well as all other competitions set to take place in the country.