Two global martial arts organizations stripped Russian President Vladimir Putin of honorary titles over the weekend in response to his ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The International Judo Federation (IJF), which governs the Japanese-originated sport, suspended Putin’s status as honorary president and ambassador in a short statement on Saturday.
The group, based in Budapest, named Putin an Honorary President in 2008, according to Reuters. In 2012, the body also awarded him the eighth dan, one of the highest recognitions in the sport.
IJF President Marius Lizer also lauded Putin, who has a blackbelt in judo, as “the perfect ambassador for our sport.” Lizer said the Russian president “represents a high expression of the judo values in the world,” according to The Moscow Times.
In a statement on Sunday, World Taekwondo, which governs the Korean-originated sport, condemned the attacks on Ukraine and withdrew Putin’s honorary ninth dan — another top-rank black belt — it had awarded Putin in 2013.
At the time of his recognition, World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue thanked Putin “for the commitment he has shown in promoting taekwondo in Russia.” Choue also described Russia as “an incredibly important country for our sport.”
World Taekwondo, which is based in Seoul, added that it will not recognize Russian or Belarusian flags and anthems in its events. Belarus is currently being used as a staging post by Russian troops, The Guardian reported.
“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,” the organization said.
“In solidarity with the International Olympic Committee, no Russian or Belarusian national flags or anthems will be displayed or played at World Taekwondo events. World Taekwondo and the European Taekwondo Union will not organise or recognise Taekwondo events in Russia and Belarus.”
The organization continued by saying its “thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and [they] hope for a peaceful and immediate end to this war.”
The sports bodies’ actions follow a series of financial and economic sanctions imposed by international governments against Putin and Russia. As of Tuesday, the UN reported that over 400 civilians had been killed in Ukraine, according to CNN.