GENERICO.ruSportThe head of the IOC is on the warpath: how the Friendship Games infuriate him

The head of the IOC is on the warpath: how the Friendship Games infuriate him

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released a press release on Tuesday – a release in which he called on the governments of all countries and participants in the Olympic movement not to participate in the Friendship Games – and not to support the initiative to hold them. Sports correspondent talks about how and why IOC head Thomas Bach is gradually slipping from two chairs onto the warpath.
“Sports organizations within the Olympic movement must maintain political neutrality. They have the rights and responsibilities of autonomy, which include the free establishment and control of the rules of sport, the determination of the structure and management of their organizations, the right to elections free from any external influence, and the responsibility for ensuring adherence to the principles of good governance.”
Tuesday's IOC release begins with this quote from the Olympic Charter. What do you think is going on there next? The fact that the IOC, contrary to the Charter, does not allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the Olympics under its flag? About what is going to force them to perform in white or gray monotonous uniforms? About the fact that it will not decide whether Russians and Belarusians can be allowed to attend the opening ceremony of the Games, or should they remain strangers at this celebration of life? Or that a number of international federations do not allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete, either in a neutral status or in any other status – simply because they did not have a passport?

All these discriminatory actions on the part of the IOC and some other international sports bodies fit perfectly into the above quote. But no. It's about something else. It turns out that the IOC begins a statement with such a preamble, which condemns Russia’s intention to hold the summer Friendship Games in Moscow and Yekaterinburg, as well as the winter Friendship Games in Sochi.

“The IOC notes that, contrary to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter and UN General Assembly resolutions, the Russian government intends to organize purely politically motivated sporting events in Russia… To this end, the Russian government has launched an extremely intensive diplomatic offensive, reaching out to governments around the world through government delegations and ambassadors, as well as ministerial and other bodies. To make their purely political motivation even more obvious, they are deliberately bypassing sports organizations in target countries,” the release said.
The document goes on to talk about “a cynical attempt to politicize sport”, about “the risk of involving athletes in political actions”, about “the Russian government’s total disrespect for global anti-doping standards and the integrity of competitions” – here again we are talking about the Olympics in Sochi, about the doubts of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the ability to implement an anti-doping program at the Friendship Games in the conditions of RUSADA’s non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code and the absence of a WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory in the country.
All these theses can be crushed once or twice. Russian sports leadership has repeatedly emphasized that the Friendship Games are not an alternative to the Olympic Games. If someone thinks so, this is clearly not our problem. What the IOC means by the politicization of a commercial multi-sport tournament is generally unclear: our side emphasized that it would welcome athletes from all countries, including, as Russian Minister of Sports Oleg Matytsin stated, from Ukraine. No one will be deprived of the flag and no one will be clothed in a gray uniform.

Finally, doping issues are a separate topic. WADA itself has repeatedly emphasized that it has no complaints about the operational activities of RUSADA. It will not be difficult for our agency to provide a full-fledged anti-doping program at the Friendship Games, since samples in Russia are taken according to all standards and sent to one of the foreign laboratories accredited by WADA. By the way, not all countries that hold international tournaments have them.

Well, accusing the Russian government of involvement in the doping scandal in Sochi is a cheap propaganda trick. Which, by the way, is not the first time the IOC has resorted to – although the reports of the IOC commissions led by Denis Oswald and Samuel Schmid state that there is no evidence of this. This is a clear illustration of the saying “I won’t spare my father for the sake of a catchphrase.”
But despite the weakness of the argument, the IOC release ends with the following words: “The Olympic movement strongly condemns any initiatives to completely politicize sport, in particular the organization of completely politicized sporting events by the Russian government. The IOC urges all stakeholders of the Olympic movement and all governments to refuse any participation and support for initiatives aimed at the complete politicization of international sport.”
Well, there can be no more doubt. If the head of the IOC for some time tried to at least somehow sit on two chairs, talking about the inadmissibility of discrimination against athletes on the basis of nationality, that athletes should not be held responsible for the actions of their governments, now he has gotten off them and has taken the warpath. There is no other way to explain the fact that Bach is now simply denying Russian athletes the opportunity to participate in fair competitions in their homeland.
And there is no doubt that the aggressiveness of the IOC’s actions will only increase as the start of the Friendship Games approaches. WADA President Witold Banka has already mentioned some sanctions that could be applied to participants in our tournaments. The IOC is very close to saying much the same thing. And given that the IOC recommendations, when necessary, can have the status of laws (but obviously not in the case of Russians being allowed to compete – the IOC has no influence on federations that refuse to do this) – the threat that they will put not sticks in our wheels, but club, is very real.

But here we can only say one thing – there is no turning back. And the fury of international sports officials, which can be read in the IOC release, means that we are doing everything right. It is clear what they are afraid of – that we will show that, despite all the sanctions, we are still capable of hosting brilliant international tournaments. We definitely need to do this.


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