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International Olympic Committe president Thomas Bach says bans protect Russian athletes

IOC President Thomas Bach (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.David Goldman/Associated Press

Russian athletes and officials who have been banned from international sports because of the war in Ukraine are being protected rather than punished, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Friday. Most sports bodies have followed the IOC guidance given on Feb. 28 — four days after Russia began its invasion — by taking teams and athletes out of their international competitions. In soccer, Russian teams were removed from World Cup qualifying for men and women. Russian soccer is challenging those decisions and others at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and Bach’s speech will likely be echoed by defense lawyers at multiple pending hearings. “Let me emphasize again that these are protective measures, not sanctions. Measures to protect the integrity of competitions,” Bach told IOC members in an online meeting. “The safety of the Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials could not be guaranteed because of the deep anti-Russian and anti-Belarusian feelings in so many countries following the invasion.” Sanctions should apply only to “those responsible for something,” Bach said, explaining why the IOC withdrew its Olympic Order honor from Russian officials — though he did not say Russian President Vladimir Putin’s name — and advised sports to relocate events that Russia was to host. Bach did not say if Russian teams, athletes, and officials will be banned from the 2024 Paris Olympics, but he noted there would be “a time to rebuild bridges” through sport.

TENNIS

ATP, WTA punish Wimbledon over Russia ban

The women’s and men’s professional tours will not award ranking points for Wimbledon this year because of the All England Club’s ban on players from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine, an unprecedented move that stands as a significant rebuke of the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament. The WTA and ATP announced their decisions two days before the start of the French Open — and a little more than a month before play begins at Wimbledon on June 27. In a technical sense, this renders the event an exhibition, because there are no ranking points at stake. The All England Club said in April it would not allow Russians or Belarusians to compete, which drew immediate criticism from the WTA and the ATP, along with some prominent players, such as defending champion Novak Djokovic. Prominent players affected by the ban include reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who recently reached No. 1 in the rankings and is currently No. 2; men’s No. 7 Andrey Rublev; women’s No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year; and Victoria Azarenka, a former No. 1 who has won the Australian Open twice. Medvedev and Rublev are from Russia; Sabalenka and Azarenka are from Belarus. The US Tennis Association, which runs the US Open that starts Aug. 29, has not announced a decision about players from Russia and Belarus.

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SOCCER

US men’s roster announced for exhibitions

For the most part, Gregg Berhalter knows who he will take to Qatar for the World Cup in November. Barring injuries, his US men’s national soccer team will include the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams. But with six months until the opener in Doha, Berhalter indicated through his roster selections for upcoming exhibitions that he has left the door open to long-lost candidates. The 27-man delegation includes forward Haji Wright, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, and midfielders Djordje Mihailovic and Malik Tillman. Wright and Carter-Vickers haven’t been invited to the US team since 2019. Mihailovic last appeared in late 2020. Wright, 24, was a regular with the youth national teams but has never appeared in a senior match. Tillman, a 19-year-old dual national from Bayern Munich, chose to switch his affiliation to the US after playing for Germany’s under-21 squad. He’s awaiting approval from FIFA, the sport’s global governing body. The Americans will host two friendlies against World Cup-bound teams — Morocco on June 1 in Cincinnati and Uruguay on June 5 in Kansas City, Kan. — then play mandatory CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada on June 10 in Austin, Texas, and at El Salvador on June 14. McKennie, a midfielder with Juventus, has been sidelined since breaking broke a bone in his left foot on Feb. 22 but could return … Gabriel Slonina, the 18-year-old Chicago Fire goalkeeper who’s viewed as a potential future standout, will remain with the American national team program and turn down an invitation to join Poland. Slonina was listed on Poland’s 39-man roster, which was announced Tuesday ahead of four Nations League matches next month.

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MISCELLANY

Jonquel Jones leads Sun to third straight win

Jonquel Jones scored 19 points and the Connecticut Sun beat the Indiana Fever, 94-85, at Mohegan Sun Arena for their third straight victory. DeWanna Bonner had 18 points and Alyssa Thomas added 17 for Connecticut, which put six players in double figures. Kelsey Mitchell scored 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting for Indiana … Finland got back to winning ways at the men’s world hockey championship when it beat Britain, 6-0, while Germany beat Italy, 9-4, in the highest-scoring game of the tournament. Canadiens forward Joel Armia was among six players to score for host Finland, while Jussi Olkinuora faced 10 shots for the shutout as the Finns rained 42 shots on the British net at Tampere. The win lifted the Olympic champions to first in Group B, ahead of Sweden, the United States, and the Czech Republic. Britain is last in the group. In Group A, Germany got its fourth straight win behind two goals apiece from Yasin Ehliz, Daniel Fischbuch, and Alexander Karachun Yolmer Sanchez (2 for 4) and Ryan Fitzgerald (1 for 3) had two RBIs apiece in the Worcester Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park … Mitch Longo had a two-run home run and an RBI single as the Harrisburg Senators beat the Portland Sea Dogs, 7-2, in the first game of a doubleheader at Hadlock Field. In Game 2, K.J. Harrison’s eighth-inning RBI sacrifice fly was followed by Jecksson Flores’s RBI single in as Harrisburg won, 3-1 … French cyclist Arnaud Démare claimed his third stage victory at the Giro d’Italia, winning the 93-mile 13th stage from Sanremo to Cuneo, Italy. Spain’s Juan Pedro López maintained his 12-second overall lead over Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz and Portugal’s João Almeida.

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