Russian Ice Hockey players are reportedly concerns about how ongoing sanctions might impact their ability to play in North America
NHL players are concerned about visa issues © Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images
The rake of sanctions being levied against Russians the wake of the Ukrainian conflict have led to concerns among Russian NHL players that their visa statuses could be impacted, according to reports.
Per reporting by TSN, several Russian-born players in the league have reached out via their representatives to immigration lawyers to determine what impact potential sanctions may have on their visa status to live in the United States or Canada.
Several sporting figures have so far been either directly or indirectly affected by sanctions — with the most prominent being Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich who has since announced that he will sell the club which has been hit with a series of financial restrictions from the United Kingdom government.
View this post on Instagram
But with more sanctions potentially being applied in the coming days and weeks, it is understood that several of the NHL’s Russian contingent have grown concerned that new visa applications may not be granted when it comes time to reapply.
An email obtained by TSN’s Rick Westhead concerning the matter read as follows: «At this time, there are no special immigration measures for Russian nationals. Russian nationals can continue to apply through our regular immigration pathways, pending approval on all admissibility requirements.
«If Russian nationals in Canada choose to claim asylum, those individuals’ claims will be fully assessed by the Immigration and Refugee Boards independent administrative tribunal, as is done with all claims for protection within Canada.»
It will remain to be seen if these concerns prove to have any basis — though several of the NHL’s Russian contingent have been placed under a heavy media glare since the conflict began in late February.
Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin, perhaps Russian’s finest ice hockey export, has been placed under scrutiny due to his past association with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He’s my president,» said Ovechkin to reporters following the start of the conflict. «But how I said, I’m not in politics, like I’m an athlete. How I said, (I) hope everything is gonna be done soon. It’s a hard situation right now for both sides.»
It was reported by the New York Times that Ovechkin has been advised to not change his Instagram profile picture — which features him alongside Putin — with the newspaper saying he was concerned about how doing so much affect the public perception of him in his native country, where his family still live.