Members of the International Esports Federation (IESF) voted Monday to reinstate Russia and allow esports athletes from the country to fly their flag during competitions, according to multiple reports. Russia had been excluded from participation in events in the past due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. A statement from Russia Esports Federation also claims that 32 delegates voted in favor of reinstatement, 13 against, and 25 abstained.
Prince Omar bin Faisal of Jordan and Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan al Saud (the VP of IESF, and “statutory” VP of Saudi Esports Federation) were also in the city of Iași accompanying their countries’ respective teams competing in the IESF World Championship and meeting with local Romanian officials such as Iași Mayor Mihai Chirica.
The Esports Advocate has learned from sources that Prince Faisal was at this IESF member meeting Monday, but left prior to the vote to reinstate Russia.
“Russian national computer sports team will once again be able to take part in competitions under its own flag and name,” said Russian Esports Federation President Dmitri Smit in a statement released to the public. He added that “sport must unite, and any form of discrimination against athletes on national or other grounds is unacceptable. We are therefore pleased to have been able to overturn the previous decision.”
The news is not surprising considering that IESF president Vlad Marinescu is also director general of the International Judo Federation (IJF) and that international organization allowed Russia to compete under its flag at the Judo World Championship held in Qatar in May. Ukraine boycotted the event as a result of Russia and Belarus competing.
TEA has also been told by sources that motions related to equality in gender and LGBT-related topics were presented and rejected during this Monday meeting.
TEA reached out to the IESF for comment on Monday but the organization did not respond at the time of writing.
The news of Russia’s reinstatement into IESF events follows reporting from Romanian media outlets earlier this year about the IESF’s dealings with the Iașigovernment—the city where it is currently hosting its World Championship this week. Those reports published in June allege a number of things related to the Iași mayor, other Romanian government officials, and the IESF. At the time, an IESF spokesperson told TEA that the accusations were “fake news” and that the organization was considering filing a lawsuit for defamation/slander against the publication. We do not know, as of this writing, if such a lawsuit was filed in Romania.
This is a developing story…
Editor’s Note: We corrected the name of the city “Iași” throughout the entirety of this article. A previous iteration of this story capitalized the name as “Lasi.” We apologize for the error.