Russian players able to participate in IEM Katowice despite Poland entry ban
Russian players' attendance at IEM Katowice remains possible, ESL has confirmed to HLTV.org in a statement.
On September 26, Poland imposed a ban on most Russian citizens entering the country from its external borders amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which brought into question the possibility of Russian players attending the 2023 edition of IEM Katowice.
Upon inquiry, HLTV.org has received a comment from ESL regarding the issue. According to the tournament organizer, legally there is nothing preventing Russians from entering Poland and participating in the $1 million tournament kicking off on January 31.
"As of now, there is no local law indicating that any given team or player cannot enter the premises of Poland and, therefore, not participate in the upcoming tournament in Katowice," ESL's statement reads. "EFG [ESL FACEIT Group] remains compliant with all international laws and sanctions, and we will continue to monitor and reshape our global and local business strategies to reflect that."
While Russian citizens cannot enter Poland through its external European Union borders by land and from outside of the Schengen Area via air and sea, those with valid visas continue to be allowed to enter through other Schengen countries. This for example includes bordering Germany, one of many countries that are part of the bloc and continue to issue visas and allow entry to Russian citizens.
Poland's ban, which came jointly with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, added to a plethora of sanctions and measures taken by the EU and its members following the start of the invasion of Ukraine, such as a widespread ban on Russian flights and tougher visa application processes for Russian citizens. But while it is severely limited by these measures, travel from Russia to the EU remains possible through third countries, as the bloc remains hesitant on imposing an outright ban as a whole.
Only four teams are currently invited to play at IEM Katowice, including the Russian-majority team Outsiders. Most of the remaining 20 participants will be invited based on their ESL World Ranking standings as of December 19. Several more teams featuring Russian players are expected to be invited, including the likes of Natus Vincere, Cloud9, Spirit, and G2.