The return of Russian athletes: the end of international sport?

The organizers of the 2023 Asian Games have invited the Russian gymnastics team to participate in the competition.

President of the Russian Gymnastics Federation Vasily Titov told Match TV that he had received an official invitation.

“We have received an invitation to participate in the Asian Games. We will answer that we are interested, and then they will have to formulate the conditions of participation,” Titov said.

The Summer Asian Games will be held from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, China.

It is reported that Russian summer sports federations have also started receiving invitations to participate in Asian tournaments.

International Olympic Committee continues to resist

According to Der Spiegel, last week IOC director James McCloud wrote letters to the National Olympic Committees of 35 countries that are going to demand the suspension of the Russians and Belarusians from the competition in order to influence the decision of the sports ministers.

“After the meeting of the sports ministers, we became aware of many false comments made during the meeting and later in the media, which distorted the results of the meeting itself. We would like to urge you to contact your minister to ensure that he either does not sign the declaration or at least ensures that the wording reflects as closely as possible the position of the Olympic movement,” McLeod’s letter reads.

“History will tell who has done more for peace.”

IOC President Thomas Bach also continues to defend his position, covering himself with high-minded language.

In an interview with the Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne Ukraine, he condemns the position of many countries around the world regarding a possible boycott of the Olympics if Russians and Belarusians are returned to it in any status. Bach emphasized: 

“History will show who did more for peace: those who tried to keep certain lines and communicate or those who tried to isolate and divide. We had a positive experience in the Olympic movement, you may recall what happened with North and South Korea, or what we did with Israel and Palestine, or in the case of Kosovo or many other conflicts. Our role is to bring people together.”

The President of the Committee continues to refer to the “serious concerns” expressed by two experts of the UN Human Rights Council“They told us that the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes simply because of their passports is a violation of human rights. The IOC is committed to human rights, as are international sports federations, so we have to respond to this concern,” Bach said.

Nevertheless, such an appeal to human rights protection as a justification for the return of Russian athletes looks somewhat hypocritical.

Protecting the rights of people who support aggression?

Ukrainian Olympic gymnastics champion Oleh Verniaiev recently posted a video on his Instagram showing the Russian military thanking the four gymnasts for their help.

The national gymnastics team of russia supports the country’s army, which destroys my native city, my native Donbas, my Ukraine!

In the video, the military of the aggressor country thanks russian gymnast Nikita Nagorny, David, Denis and Artur for the purchased quadcopter and the help of the army. Gymnasts from the russian federation stand for «russian peace», for the genocide of the Ukrainian people, for terror on the territory of our country.

And do the International Olympic Committee really want to admit these people to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris? Is the Olympic community ready to welcome accomplices of terror?

russian federation poses a threat to the whole world, and the international community should understand this after the tragic events in Mariupol, Bucha, Dnipro and other cities of our country!” Verniaiev wrote.

This raises the question of whether it is worth protecting the right to free and fair competition for those who encourage war crimes.

What does the IOC President mean?

Also, in his interview, Mr. Bach points out that “it is not the prerogative of governments to decide who can compete in what sports, otherwise it will be the end of international sports, the world championships, and the Olympic Games as we know them.”

Indeed, he is somewhat right. A mass boycott of the Olympic movement would be the end. But it is not the end of international sport, but the end of the Olympic Committee’s income.

Photo: Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

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