The IJF said the spectators were ejected after refusing to remove the Russian military symbol ©JudoTV

The International Judo Federation (IJF) has banned a group of spectators from attending the World Judo Championships here after they were thrown out for refusing to remove a Russian military symbol.

Three people were spotted in the crowd wearing the Ribbon of St George - which is viewed by many Ukrainians as a symbol of Russian aggression and has been banned in several European countries - when watching yesterday's competition at the Ali Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah Arena in Qatari capital Doha.

insidethegames understands that the situation was swiftly dealt with by IJF officials who ejected the individuals as soon as they were identified.

"They were spectators and they were asked to remove the items and they didn’t want to," a spokesperson from the IJF told insidethegames.

"So they were removed from the venue and will not be allowed to re-enter."

The incident comes after the IJF allowed Russian and Belarusian judoka to compete as individual neutral athletes at the World Championships having previously banned them in response to the war in Ukraine.

The readmission of athletes from the two countries that adheres to International Olympic Committee's (IOC) recommendations led Ukraine to boycott the tournament.

An image of the three fans wearing the Ribbon of St George was posted on social media by Ukrainian Olympic wrestling champion and Member of Parliament Zhan Beleniuk.

"'Sport is beyond politics'' this Russian-haired family will tell you, cheering for 'neutral' athletes at the World Judo Championship in Qatar with a 'St. George's ribbon' on their chests," Beleniuk wrote in a post on Instagram as reported by Ukrainian newspaper the Tribuna.

Ukrainian skeleton racer Vladyslav Heraskevych also posted the same image on Twitter, accusing the IJF and the IOC of creating a "platform for promoting Russian narratives and terrorists symbols".

"International Judo Federation returned representatives of the Russian terrorist army to the World Championship," Heraskevych wrote.

"At these competitions we can see in the stands such 'brainwashed' people who have attached an element of the battle flags of the Russian Guard units to themselves."

Ukrainian judoka have been training in Kyiv after boycotting the World Judo Championships over the presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes ©Getty Images
Ukrainian judoka have been training in Kyiv after boycotting the World Judo Championships over the presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes ©Getty Images

A total of 17 Russian judoka have been permitted at the World Championships as neutrals after background checks were carried out to ensure no public support of the war in Ukraine and that they were employed by the Federal Training Sport Center.

It is reported in Ukrainian media that 14 of those competitors are either contracted to the Russian military or national security bodies.

Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Guttsait issued a letter to the IOC, accusing the IJF of an "unprecedented neglect of the Olympic Charter" by allegedly allowing military personnel to compete at the World Championships.

IJF director general and Executive Committee member Vlad Marinescu has refuted the allegations, insisting that independent investigations revealed that all Russian athletes were employed by the Federal Training Center and found that there was no pro-war propaganda on their social media.

Eight Russian support staff and coaches were excluded before the tournament after failing to meet the criteria.