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International Ski Federation votes to leave Russia’s Vyalbe outside FIS Council

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Yelena Vyalbe, the head of the Russian Ski Association (RSA), failed on Thursday to be reelected as a member of the Council of the International Ski Federation (FIS), the federation said in its statement on Thursday.

“The General Assembly of the 53rd International Ski Congress was held on 26th May in Milan (ITA). The day was highlighted by the election of the FIS President and Council in addition to a full agenda with many key decisions,” the statement reads.

During the voting procedure, Vyalbe secured 48 out of 115 registered votes and finished in the bottom of the voting list, which consisted of 23 candidates. However, despite numerous calls on behalf of European states against Vyalbe’s nomination to run for a post in the FIS Council, she managed to register her candidacy and run in the election.

Representatives of Sweden, Poland and Finland earlier voiced their disagreement with the registration of Vyalbe’s candidacy, citing the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

Vyalbe has been a member of the FIS Council since 2021 becoming a first-ever female official to be elected to this sports body based on voting results of participating delegates.

The 54-year-old three-time Olympic Champion Vyalbe is in charge of the Russian Cross-Country Skiing Federation since 2010 and was appointed to be at the helm of the Russian Ski Association in 2020. She is also a member of the Executive Board of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

According to the FIS statement earlier on Thursday: “FIS President Johan Eliasch was the sole candidate for the FIS presidency and was re-elected by for his second term by the FIS Congress.”

Commenting on his elected post, Sweden’s Eliasch said: “I want to thank the FIS Family for their support and trust. The past year has shown that this can, and must, only be the beginning. I am grateful and excited about this clear mandate to continue our path to lead snow sports into a bright and successful future.”

On February 28, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued recommendations to international sports federations to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in international tournaments, referring to a special military operation in Ukraine.

Following the IOC recommendations in late February, the majority of global sports federations decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from all international sports tournaments.

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