333 total Canadians banned in response to sanctions imposed by federal government
Hayley Wickenheiser, Tessa Virtue and Clara Hughes are among dozens of former Canadian Olympians banned from entering Russia for signing a statement encouraging the removal of Russian athletes from next year’s Paris Olympics amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement it was closing its borders to 333 Canadians, most of whom are politicians, in response to the Canadian government periodically imposing sanctions against Russia.
The list includes a group of 42 retired Canadian Olympians who signed a statement last month urging the Canadian Olympic Committee to reject the idea of allowing Russians to participate in the 2024 Games unless Russia withdraws from Ukraine.
The Canadian government was also among a group of 35 governments that released a statement in February saying that, without clarity on a workable neutrality model, “we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition.”
The COC said in a statement last month that it supports the exclusion of athletes representing Russia and Belarus from international sport as long as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.
The International Olympic Committee has not yet made a decision on whether or not Russian and Belarusian athletes will be banned from the Paris Games, saying last month the decision will be made at the appropriate time. The IOC did, however, recommend that individual athletes from both countries who do not have links to the military be allowed to return to competition under neutral status.