By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Formula One (F1) has pulled its race from Russia and European soccer’s Champions League final will be moved to Paris from St. Petersburg because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
F1 said on February 25 that it would be “impossible” to hold the race in Sochi under the current circumstances. The Russian Grand Prix had been scheduled for September 25.
F1 is “watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation,” the London-based organization said in a statement.
The announcement came as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said international sports federations should either move or cancel sporting events currently planned in Russia or Belarus.
“They should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarusian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes absolute priority,” the IOC said in a statement on February 25.
The decision to move the Champions League final came earlier in the day from European soccer’s governing body, UEFA.
The widely expected decision was made during a hastily arranged executive committee meeting less than 36 hours after Russian forces entered Ukraine.
“UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction, and displacement.”
The Kremlin said the decision was a “shame.”
The meeting also decided that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams in UEFA competitions will have to play at neutral venues until further notice.
The 80,000-capacity Stade de France will host the May 28 final, UEFA said.
Paris has hosted five previous finals of Europe’s elite competition, previously known as the European Cup. Parc des Princes stadium was the final venue for the maiden edition of the tournament in 1956 as well as the 1975 and 1981 finals, while the 2000 and 2006 deciders were held in the Stade de France.