The International Olympic Committee (IOC) intends to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in world competitions. However – on rather shameful conditions for them.
Trying to sit on two chairs
Representatives of Russia and Belarus were excluded from sports after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But recently IOC officials have begun signaling a change in that decision.
According to the updated recommendations of the IOC, Belarusian and Russian athletes will be able to compete in international competitions subject to the following conditions: participation only under a neutral flag; permission to start will be granted to individual athletes, not teams: players and members of support staff (eg coaches) actively supporting the war will not be allowed to compete; Athletes and members of the auxiliary staff who are bound by contracts with the army, special services and military clubs are not allowed to compete; Athletes must comply with anti-doping requirements.
“No international tournaments should be held on the territory of Russia and Belarus. Flags, anthems and other national symbols cannot be displayed,” IOC head Thomas Bach stressed.
He also added that these recommendations do not apply to the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the 2024 and 2026 Olympic Games. The solution to this issue will be discussed later.
Whether the Russians and Belarusians will take part in the Olympics next year in Paris under such conditions is not clear now. So far, they themselves, to put it mildly, are not delighted with the decision of the IOC functionaries. And they have already begun to scandal that in such conditions their athletes have nothing to do at the Olympics: they say, no one will go there.
“Such a humiliation, no one will go”, “95% of the athletes themselves will refuse”, “the party will not allow athletes under such conditions”, “the point is to go there to wipe their feet on you”, – these are the most innocent response comments of citizens of the Russian Federation from social networks in response as decided by the IOC.
But at least they really reflect reality. However, there are quite a few followers of the government’s aggressive policy in Russia who have lost all common sense. So, four-time Olympic champion in biathlon, 76-year-old Alexander Tikhonov, linked the timing of the return of Russian athletes to competitions with success in the war in Ukraine. According to the Russian, it is the successes at the front that will allegedly push the world community to remove all restrictions.
“Depending on how the SVO (war in Ukraine – ed.) will advance. The faster we advance, the faster everything will be decided. Thomas Bach is starting to give up. He has received so much criticism from everywhere. If we were sponsors of the IOC, we would be it’s easier to talk. The Americans are there, and they run the show,” Tikhonov said in an interview with Sport24.
But Russia also has no successes at the front, and a wave of humiliation of sports representatives of the aggressor country is rising. And, apparently, with the approaching start of the Olympics, it will turn into a real “ninth wave”.
“It’s hard to say now whether some official procedure will be developed for the renunciation of Russian athletes from Putinism, whether an oral or written statement will be enough … But public renunciation could also become a sport: skaters could draw these words on the ice with skates, biathletes could knock out on some targets,” the well-known journalist Alexander Nevzorov sarcastically commented on the “difficult choice” that appeared before the Russian Olympians.
Decision – not in time
In the meantime, the likely admission of athletes from both countries to participate in the competition could lead to a boycott of the event, experts warn.
Dozens of countries are against allowing Russians and Belarusians to participate in the Olympic Games – in particular, Poland, Great Britain and Estonia. Poland, for example, has already refused to comply with the IOC’s guidelines.
“The decision of the IOC to resume Russian athletes in competition is a scandal and a betrayal of the true spirit of the sport. I have instructed the Minister of Sports and Tourism, Kamil Bortnichuk, to bring to the attention of the IOC leadership our strong disagreement. We will do our best to keep the sport free from Russian influence,” wrote Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Twitter.
At the same time, according to The Guardian, the UK government called on sponsors of the Olympic Games to influence the International Olympic Committee in order to prevent the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Olympics, which will be held in 2024 in Paris.
British Minister of Culture Lucy Fraser sent letters of such appeal to the British chief executives of the IOC’s global partners, notably Coca-Cola, Intel, Samsung and Visa.
“We know that sport and politics in Russia and Belarus are closely intertwined. We are confident that the regimes in Russia and Belarus should not be allowed to use sport for their own propaganda purposes,” the letter says.
But as the world understands more and more what an abomination in the face of today’s Russia today we have to deal with, the Russian Federation is also tirelessly and gradually going wild, – Nevzorov “diagnosed”.
However, the IOC, surprisingly, does not stop this: the Committee even made it clear that not only individual countries, but also international federations should consider recommendations for the return of Russians to competitions in the context of their sport.
But, unlike private tennis or hockey associations that allow representatives of aggressive countries to their championships, the International Biathlon Union, in particular, confirmed its own principled position in relation to the aggressor countries. They said that they took into account the message of the Olympic functionaries, but they are not going to change their point of view regarding the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the competitions.
“The IBU has taken note of the new IOC recommendations for the neutral participation of individual athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport in international competitions and will carefully consider them. The IBU Congress last September made a very clear decision not to allow any Russian or Belarusian athletes or officials to participate in our international competitions, including non-sports events organized by the IBU, until circumstances change,” the organization said in a statement. “Of course, in the long term, the IBU is open to dialogue on how to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes into our competitions, but given the current situation in Ukraine, the reasons that led to the congressional decision still stand, and it is not yet time to reconsider this decision.”
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