Replacements for Russia’s name and flag are in place for a handball world championship in Egypt, but the national anthem still needs a backup.
The International Handball Federation announced that it has set conditions under which a Russian team can participate in next month’s tournament, conforming to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling in a landmark doping case.
The court ruled that Russia will not be able to use its name, flag and anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years.
At the IHF men’s world championship scheduled to start Jan. 13, Russia can compete under the name Russian Handball Federation Team. The acronym RHF will replace the normal International Olympic Committee country code.
An unresolved issue is what to use as a replacement for the anthem. The IHF is awaiting an update from the IOC.
“National anthem: The IOC is liaising with the Russian Olympic Committee to find a consistent approach,” the IHF said Friday. “In case no consistent approach is found until the beginning of the 2021 men’s world championship, the IHF anthem will be played.”
The flag will be the logo of the Russian Handball Federation “without text,” the IHF said.
For clothing and uniforms, it said: “Any national symbol, flag or abbreviation must be replaced by the logo of the Handball Federation of Russia without text. Alternatively, they may be removed or covered neutrally. The use of the term `Russia’ should be avoided, as otherwise the term `Neutral Athlete’ must be affixed to each piece of clothing/uniform in the same size and manner as the term ‘Russia.”‘
The IHF said it has worked with the IOC and the Russian Olympic Committee “to ensure that all requirements regarding the CAS decision will be met.” The conditions were shared with the Russian Handball Federation on Friday.
World juniors exempt?
The Russian team is scheduled to play in Group H with Belarus, Slovenia and South Korea. Russia won gold at the 1993 and 1997 world championships, and finished 14th at the most recent championship in 2019.
In the ruling announced Dec. 17, CAS halved the four-year ban proposed last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a landmark case that accused Russia of state-ordered tampering of a testing laboratory database in Moscow. The ruling also blocked Russia from bidding to host major sporting events for two years.
Russian athletes and teams will still be allowed to compete at next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as well as world championships including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, if they are not banned for or suspected of doping.
The court said the name “Russia” can be retained on uniforms if the words “Neutral Athlete” or equivalents like “Neutral Team” have equal prominence.
At the current ice hockey world junior championship in Canada, the Russian players are wearing jerseys that say “Russia” — in Russian — on the front. The International Ice Hockey Federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.