St Petersburg’s fate as the host of EuroSkills 2023 is hanging in the balance – with leaders from WorldSkills Europe currently deciding on how they will respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
WorldSkills Europe is planning on releasing a formal statement tomorrow following a meeting of its board.
WorldSkills International is also planning on releasing a statement “early this week” on how the invasion will impact the global competition in Shanghai later this year.
Across the world, sports organisations have banned Russia from taking part in global competitions, as sanctions from the West begin to take their toll.
“WorldSkills Europe is shocked and saddened by the security situation that is unfolding in Ukraine,” a spokesperson for the European wing of the organisation told FE Week.
“Our hearts go out to all residents of Ukraine, and any person affected by the current events, wherever they may be, including our colleagues at WorldSkills Russia, many of whom have family members living in the Ukraine.”
Tensions around the crisis are now clear to see in the organisation’s global community.
WorldSkills UK chief executive Neil Bentley-Gockmann told FE Week that his organisation is ceasing all bilateral relationships with WorldSkills Russia, including the suspension of their international partnership.
“We are working with WorldSkills International and WorldSkills Europe to help secure swift decisions about WorldSkills Russia’s future involvement in international events and where EuroSkills 2023 will take place,” he said.
WorldSkills UK did not confirm whether it would be pushing for EuroSkills 2023 to be moved to another country or whether UK teams would be stopped from participating in the event it is held in St Petersburg.
Other members of the skills community have made their opinions on the issue heard.
In an email to WorldSkills International’s chief executive, David Hoey, Tom Bewick, chief executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies said that Vladimir Putin is a “dictator, leading a gangster government in Moscow”.
“And by association, every organ of the Russian state, including WorldSkills Russia, is implicated in this unfolding human tragedy,” Bewick said.
“As a member of the international skills community, it is only right, in my view, that Russia is suspended from membership of WorldSkills International, Russia’s competitors should be suspended from taking part in Shanghai later this year; and WorldSkills Europe in St Petersburg should be cancelled, not merely postponed,” he added.
Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine could affect Russian teams training for WorldSkills’ Shanghai 2022.
FE Week understands that the question of Russian competitors’ participation will be decided by Wednesday.
“Our teams have been following the situation carefully and meeting throughout the weekend to discuss our next steps,” a spokesperson from WorldSkills International told FE Week.
“WorldSkills shares the international community’s deep concern that military operations are disrupting the lives and sovereignty within Ukraine.
“We hope for immediate peace and call upon all countries to ensure the security of all those fleeing Ukraine, including students and workers from abroad. Early this week, we will release further details on the impact on WorldSkills Shanghai 2022,” they said.
Across the world Russia is facing mounting pressure, with sports organisations stopping Russians from taking part in global competitions.
FIFA/UEFA have suspended Russian clubs and national teams from all competitions and Formula 1 has cancelled the Russian Grand Prix.
A report from The Mirror said ministers are discussing plans to ban Russian or Belarussian sports teams from UK competitions.