The International Blind Sports Federation acts as governing body for nine sports including goalball ©Getty Images

The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) has admitted that the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from their events was "very difficult and painful." 

The IBSA organises World Games for those with a visual impairment and also serves as the international governing body for nine sports including goalball, five-a-side football and judo. 

"We hereby inform our members that the IBSA Board has decided to suspend the national representatives of Russia and Belarus from all international events organised under the aegis of IBSA," President Sandro Di Girolamo said in a statement.

"It was a very difficult and painful decision because it is inevitably penalising athletes who have no direct responsibility for the current international situation," the statement continued.

Last year, the International Paralympic Committee had selected visually impaired Russian judo Paralympic bronze medallist Viktoriya Potapova for their "courage" award.

"At the same time as having to provide political and strategic direction, we want to show our closeness to the Ukrainian people and to condemn all forms of violence and war," the IBSA said.

The ban comes in the wake of the decision by the International Paralympic Committee not to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to take part in the Paralympic Games in Beijing earlier this month.

The IBSA ban will be in effect for the Prague Showdown Cup, a table based sport due to take place in the Czech Republic at the end of the month.

It will remain in force as long as the conflict continues in Ukraine. 

"Clearly, we wish to reconsider this decision as soon as the situation will allow it," the IBSA's statement added.

The IBSA World Games, which constitutes the world’s biggest gathering of visually impaired athletes, is scheduled for Birmingham, England, in August 2023.