BUCS has announced its withdrawal from Chengdu 2021 ©BUCS

The British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) has announced it will not send athletes to the Chengdu 2021 International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University Summer Games, citing the war in Ukraine and ongoing concerns over COVID-19 protocols.

In announcing its decision, BUCS claimed in a statement on its website that there had been "a lack of clarity" from the FISU over the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Games.

FISU disputed this position, and correspondence seen by insidethegames shows that FISU contacted all National University Sports Federations on March 5 to say that it would "continue to closely monitor the situation before making further decisions."

FISU is due to hold a Steering Committee meeting tomorrow to further consider the situation in Ukraine.

Numerous International Federations have banned the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus, following the invasion of Ukraine.

BUCS had called for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be excluded from representing their nation last week.

This has not yet happened in university sport, although FISU has removed several 2022 events due to be hosted by Belarus and Russia from its calendar.

Concerns over cyber security, COVID-19 rules and the overall quality of the experience at Chengdu 2021 had also been raised by BUCS.

"We deeply regret that we are not able to support a delegation," said Vince Mayne, BUCS chief executive.

"Should the situation change significantly in the coming weeks, we are open to reviewing the viability of us attending the games.

"We recognise the opportunities that performing on the international stage bring to our student athletes.

"As we look ahead to the future, we hope that we can work together with Organising Committees and NGBs [national governing bodies] to ensure international sport continues to thrive."

Britain becomes the third nation to withdraw from Chengdu 2021, following Canada and New Zealand.

Canada's university sports organisation U SPORTS said it had pulled out its delegation from Chengdu 2021 over health and safety concerns surrounding the event.

New Zealand decided last month not to participate considering the risks involved and international travel requirements.

Chengdu was originally scheduled to stage the World University Games last August before being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 concerns have persisted in the build-up to the event, which is scheduled to take place from June 26 to July 7.