Judo Grand Prix in Portugal disrupted by protests over Russian athletes' alleged military ties
The Ukrainians raised the alarm in the Lisbon arena's audience. They protested against the participation of 25 Russians in the Grand Prix, who competed under a neutral flag. Among these, ten are allegedly associated with the Russian army, which they argue is a clear violation of International Olympic Committee recommendations.
"We anticipated that chanting political slogans would be penalized. We brought Ukrainian symbols with us and distributed distressing images of bombed cities. This attracted the attention of all Grand Prix participants," reports Elena Osad on her Facebook profile.
The Grand Prix organizers felt compelled to intervene. In their opinion, the behavior of the Ukrainians had gone too far. As a result, a protester was fined $170 and was prohibited from re-entering the competition.
"The police were quite perplexed. With so many of us Ukrainians, the competition had to be temporarily halted for intervention. All the attention was directed towards us. Foreigners inquired about the photos and also offered their support. The Ukrainians in Lisbon demonstrated solidarity, and perhaps the Portuguese could learn something from this. Although, personally, I remain skeptical," adds Elena Osad.
The Ukrainian community in Portugal also decided to stage a protest outside the sports minister's office. The next move is to write a letter to the government secretary asking to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from future competitions.
As stated in the official International Olympic Committee guidelines, Russians cannot participate in sporting events if they are part of the Russian army and/or have supported the illegal invasion of Ukraine.