The Russian Karate Federation has praised the "cordiality" of the WKF leadership after allowing athletes from Russia to compete ©WKF

The Russian Karate Federation has claimed that athletes from the country had received "warmth" from "most" nations during the World Championships here.

The national governing body has issued a statement in response to fierce criticism over the return of Russian athletes from Ukrainian karate star Stanislav Horuna.

The Olympic bronze medallist claimed that the World Karate Federation (WKF) was helping to promote the "propaganda of terrorism" by allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral banner in Budapest.

"One athlete cannot even be closely compared with the opinion of the world sports community," the Russian Karate Federation told Russia's official state news agency TASS.

"And it, represented by the Executive Committee of the World Karate Federation, unanimously voted for the participation of athletes from Russia at the World Championships.

"The fact that this was a fair decision was easy to see in Budapest.

"With what warmth, with what cordiality the leaders of the WKF and most National Federations communicated there with the leaders of our federation, our athletes, coaches.

WKF President Antonio Espinós said he hoped
WKF President Antonio Espinós said he hoped "normality" would resume in karate after readmitting Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals ©WKF

"At the 26th World Karate Championship it was confirmed 'rule: sport must remain outside of politics'.

"You can try to divide countries through political methods, but no one will be able to break the unity and friendship within the global karate family."

Athletes from Russia and Belarus had been barred from international competition since March last year in response to the war in Ukraine before the WKF agreed to end the suspension in time for the World Championships in Budapest.

Horuna is a member of the WKF Athletes’ Commission but claims his supporters' opposition to Russian participation fell on deaf ears as the governing body’s Executive Committee decided to controversially lift the outright ban at the start of this month.

It is argued by the WKF that the move is in line with recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which has pushed for Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutrals provided they do not support the war and are not affiliated with the military.

The WKF has also told insidethegames that there was no opposition during its consultation process.

Ukraine's Olympic bronze medallist Stanislav Horuna has expressed his opposition to the return of Russian athletes in Budapest ©Getty Images
Ukraine's Olympic bronze medallist Stanislav Horuna has expressed his opposition to the return of Russian athletes in Budapest ©Getty Images

"The decision to allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the World Championships in Budapest was a carefully thought-out resolution which was taken following the IOC guidelines and after an exhaustive analysis of the situation done by an ad-hoc working group," a statement from the WKF read.

"All the National Federations and WKF stakeholders were dutifully informed and consulted during the whole process.

"The WKF acted in concordance with the general opinion of the majority of the sport and no commission or major stakeholder of the organisation expressed their opposition to this decision.

"We would like to add as well that only the commission chairs are entitled to be the voice of such commissions, and that the internal discussions of the different bodies of the organisation remain within the private sphere of these bodies.  

"Lastly, we would like to point out that the WKF is a sports organisation and as such, our main concern and reason for being is the promotion of our sport.

"Other considerations are out of our area of influence.

"It is not in our interest, in any way, to become ‘opinion leaders'; on other topics that are not specifically related to karate.

"The well-being and progress of our athletes are at the core of our essence and we will continue doing our utmost to ensure that they find the best conditions to thrive and to put the many values of karate into practice."

A total of 12 athletes from Russia and eight from Belarus have been cleared to compete as neutrals in Budapest.

But the Ukrainian Karate Federation claim Russian Ernest Sharafutdinov and Belarusian Aliaksei Furyk have links to the military.

The WKF has denied the accusations after conducting background checks as part of the readmission process.

WKF President Antonio Espinós said he hoped "normality" would resume in karate as he looks ahead to a men’s under-84 kilogram bronze-medal match between Ukraine’s Valerii Chobotar and Russian Eduard Gasparian and future events involving neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus.

"On Saturday, there will be a match for the bronze medal between competitors from Ukraine and Russia," Espinós told insidethegames.

"I hope there will be normality at the end of the event.

"Budapest is the first event [for Russian and Belarusian athletes] and then there will be more as we have a very dense calendar.

"The Russians and Belarusians will be able to compete so Budapest is the first one and now it continues."