A boycott of the FIG Congress over Russian and Belarusian involvement has been joined by Italy ©Getty Images

The Italian Gymnastics Federation (FGI) has become the latest to pull out of next month's International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) Congress in Istanbul in protest at the participation delegates from Russia.

The FGI announced in a letter that it would not take part in the Congress, due to take place on November 11 and 12, "due to the unavailability to meet delegates from Russia and Belarus".

It was circulated to each National Federation in Europe and Italy is the sixth country to confirm it will skip the gathering, after Lithuania last week joined Poland, Estonia, Norway and Ukraine's boycott.

The Norwegians had originally been designated to host the Congress but withdrew in July when it was announced that Russian delegates would be permitted to attend.

"Dear European friends of Gymnastics," the Italian letter began.

"The Italian Gymnastics Federation does support the line adopted by other European Gymnastics Federations to the declaration agreed by Ministers of Sport, or their equivalent, from the 25 countries of the European Union and also numerous non-European countries, with the endorsement of the Italian Olympic Committee, in total solidarity with the Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation, and does declare it will not take part in the 84th FIG Congress."

The letter concludes with a plea for the fighting in Ukraine to end.

"With the hope that this atmosphere of war may cease as soon as possible, since only if we are all at peace can we be fully part of the great Olympic Family," it reads.

President Morinari Watanabe and the FIG insist that Russian officials will participate in the Congress next month ©Getty Images
President Morinari Watanabe and the FIG insist that Russian officials will participate in the Congress next month ©Getty Images

Russian official state news agency TASS has indicated that Russian Artistic Gymnastics Federation President Vasily Titov and four other officials plan to take part in the two-day FIG Congress in Turkey's biggest capital. 

FIG President Morinari Watanabe has insisted that the delegates are entitled to attend as they are not elected as representatives of their country but as neutral representatives of the sport.

"The International Gymnastics Federation includes 143 countries, 130 have already registered [to participate in the congress]," Titov told TASS following Italy's withdrawal. 

"This means that the Congress is competent, it will take place and make all the necessary decisions. that our colleagues in sports are trying to overly politicize the situation with the participation of the Russian and Belarusian delegations."

Following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine - supported by Belarus - the FIG had initially permitted gymnasts from Russia and Belarus to compete as neutral competitors in international competitions.

A ban was imposed in the wake of the actions by Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak at an Apparatus World Cup in Doha at the beginning of March.

Kuliak displayed the letter "Z" on his uniform, a symbol widely associated with support for the Russian military action in Ukraine.

Russian and Belarusian gymnasts were banned in March after protests from other nations and Kuliak was later handed a year's suspension for his gesture.

insidethegames has contacted FIG for a comment.