ISSF president Luciano Rossi on Ukraine-Russia unrest: ‘Athletes cannot pay the bill of politics’

The 69-year-old Italian, personally, is of the view that an athlete must not suffer the consequences of ‘a complicated political matter’.

ISSF President Luciano Rossi greets 10m air pistol gold medallist Li Xue of China during the presentation ceremony at the Shooting World Cup in Bhopal.

ISSF President Luciano Rossi greets 10m air pistol gold medallist Li Xue of China during the presentation ceremony at the Shooting World Cup in Bhopal. | Photo Credit: A.M. FARUQUI | The Hindu

The 69-year-old Italian, personally, is of the view that an athlete must not suffer the consequences of ‘a complicated political matter’.

Luciano Rossi, the newly-elected president of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), is eager to find a quick solution to the ongoing uncertainty around letting Russian and Belarusian athletes go through the Paris Olympics’ qualification cycle.

Although Rossi is set to meet Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, next Tuesday to have a detailed discussion on the same, the 69-year-old Italian, personally, is of the view that an athlete must not suffer the consequences of ‘a complicated political matter’.

“This aggression from Russia in Ukraine is very, very bad. I hope that the solution is close. We will do what we can do. For me, the athletes cannot pay the bill of other matter (sic),” Rossi tells Sportstar on the sidelines of Bhopal’s first-ever shooting World Cup.

His thoughts happen to be in line with the IOC’s January 2023 directive, asking sports bodies to find ways for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag after initially banning them from competing on February 28, 2022.

Although the ISSF promptly followed orders last year, the shooting apex body, then, continued to be run by two Russians, namely Russian oligarch Vladimir Lisin and his secretary-general Alexander Ratner.

Lisin, in fact, is the chairman of Russia’s largest steel manufacturer ‘Novolipetsk Steel’ – the same company whose products were allegedly used to conduct military operations in Ukraine. Ratner, of course, had rubbished the claims back then and Lisin had refused to step down from his post.

However, on November 30, Lisin lost by nine votes to Rossi in an acrimonious election at the ISSF General Assembly.

“I hope first of all for our brothers in Ukraine, but also for help for our shooters from Russia for the future soon. We have the qualification system ready, but still now, they cannot participate. In very short time, we will have very good news. We have to work for the solution, not create the problem. I will do my best. The ISSF is ready to work for the future of all the shooters around the world,” Rossi said.

Incidentally, India had voted for Russia during the said election. Rossi, however, having met Raninder Singh, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president, and all other top officials of the shooting federation during the ongoing ISSF World Cup in Bhopal, is convinced the ISSF and NRAI can now join hands to work together.

He said, “It’s my pleasure to come together with the NRAI president, vice-president, and general-secretary. I think only if we cooperate with the spirit of friendship and support, that’s the best way for the future. I say now we are all together. We forget some fights because we cannot do this for the future, surely... I need cooperation. I will do my best for all. And this is, I think the best way for the future of all sports.”

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