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Sunday, April 2, 2023

How Bach became a fighter for Russia


Sport in the world after the IOC statement

The IOC wants to bring Russia back to international competitions before the Olympics. And it’s not just the world championships. Games competition should be much more attractive for many financial reasons. Is the IOC’s proposal for status neutrality an option for our return? Many in Russia have already spoken out against it. Other countries are also protesting – they have their own vision. Does the IOC have other options? Or will the wave of boycotts, which the IOC personally created a year ago with its own decision to withdraw Russia from competitions, destroy all attempts to correct authorized national discrimination in sport?

… Yes, if everything were so poetic, as FIG President Morinari Watanabe once said when opening the next World Cup without Russia: “We must not forget that there are flowers in the world that want to flourish, but cannot do so under the weight of the snow”. IOC made snow fall from these buried flowers. But the Olympic weather could turn around again.

Alas, the beauty of words will not save the world of sport. Yes, I want to be optimistic in spite of everything, but things have turned out badly so far. It looks like the IOC finally reached out to us after the athletes withdrew. But after all, hatred in sport, which goes through blackmail and speculation, he himself admitted. He divided the athletes into friends and foes. He allowed the hostages to be taken away in accordance with the passport.

The last three days have been a new wave of emotions from the IOC. First, we heard about the proposed neutral status for Russia and Belarus to participate in international competitions. Yes, yes, with a careful study of the personal files of the athletes: he did not stand out, did not participate, did not say or write what the IOC considers unacceptable. This was followed by an official Chinese invitation to the Asian Games. Afterwards, a laconic confirmation of the declarations of the IOC already personally by President Thomas Bach: we can be authorized for Paris-2024 in neutral status, because “the suspension does not correspond to our values”. And even his verbal shrug of the shoulders in the face of the threat of a boycott from the Ukrainians: “it is contrary to the mission of the Olympic movement”.

Words have already been spoken that tear the souls of many. This status – without flag or anthem – spits on him again. And the words – humiliation and alms from the IOC – pass even among those who have always advocated precisely this: sport is outside politics.

Ring the bell, cover them with words or not, with political demands. Whatever the admission criteria of our athletes, this very essence will vibrate in the balance. And we can say it a hundred times: it is not the role of the CIO to evaluate the policy of the State. And the Olympic organization does not have the right to require athletes to report on their political position… But it is very difficult to direct sport towards the purification of slogans and political declarations. Here and now is simply impossible. It’s reality.

No, now the IOC says: you can’t look in the passport. Not Olympic. But the hostages must act under a neutral flag. So it is necessary. And the question remains the same: if there is no discrimination, then why is there a proposal for neutral status? Is it necessary?

And what a diversity of opinions on this subject: what we consider a humiliation, part of the world also considers its own humiliation. Like: but how does language transform such propositions, how can these Russians be allowed to participate in international competitions?

For example, one of the Norwegian commentators simply stigmatized the whole IOC at once. Says that Thomas Bach had deceived the vast majority of its members, and that makes them “useful idiots for the Kremlin”.

There has always been enough hostility – such terminology is now in use – from federation leaders and athletes. Of course, before the events in Ukraine. There are downright passionate lovers of Russia in their anger: it seems that they only care to study any statement of colleagues on social networks, any photo posted. Today the aggravation goes everywhere. The IOC wave has covered its head, the IOC is already backing down, it is already trying to knock it down with an oncoming wave, but so far there is no particular result.

Investment in the world

Emotions are not constructive, rules must come into play. With the admission of Russian athletes to international competitions announced by the IOC, certain criteria will work. And they were only determined after consultation with the International Olympic Committee and international federations. And each federation is the sole governing body of its competitions.

And what about federations? And there – as it was. Anyone who has thought and talked about “flowers under the snow” is ready to think more about the unity of sport. Who usually lyutoval, he continues. The situation shows again: who is a friend, who is an enemy, and who is so…

One of the first for the return of our athletes was the International Judo Federation. Marius Wieser, IJF President, says: “We invest in peace because we strongly believe that sport can foster and even resolve conflict. And remember: today we are all in an extreme situation where “governments prohibit or block the participation” of athletes from other countries, and not their own, in international sporting events. And “the reintegration of judokas from Russia and Belarus into international competitions” is based on irrefutable arguments. It is known to all: one of the main pillars of the Olympic Charter remains the non-discriminatory participation of athletes without exception. And sport has always been, is and will remain the most important platform for unity, solidarity and friendship, “if not between nations, but certainly between peoples”.

And the president of the International Gymnastics Federation, Morinari Watanabe, suggested that of course the reaction may vary depending on the sport, there is no consensus today, but he expressed his support for the decision of the IOC on the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Not everyone has spoken yet, many are waiting for clear rules on who and how to authorize. But the trends and sentiments are clear. For example, the secretary general of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation, Michel Vion, said that the national teams of Russia and Belarus have no chance of participating in the next world ski championship, if the question of the admission is considered, then in the spring.

And there, not a separate federation, but the entire National Olympic Committee of Norway spoke in a dry tone: the NOC does not want Russia and Belarus to take part in international competitions. “In the current situation, this is wrong and we strongly recommend that you do not do so.” Estonians, Finns, Swedes – one duda. The UK intends to urgently develop a common view with like-minded countries on the matter. “The position expressed by the IOC is now inappropriate.”

Of course – Ukraine, which on February 3 will discuss the option of a boycott. True, here Thomas Bach has already spoken sharply, his words are quoted by Spiegel: “We know the point of view of Ukraine, which not only wants to isolate Russia as a state, but also wants to completely isolate all Russians. Individual athletes should not be discriminated against even if countries are in conflict.

How to separate politics from sport? Or vice versa? Is this possible at all, and especially in the current situation? A lot of emotions. They can’t be. The suspension of housing starts on the “national question” was doomed to cancellation. But all year it worked and continues to work. Meanwhile, the increasing degree of hatred in certain sports, letters of protest, blackmail – if they appear, we will leave – have become commonplace. And what wave they will take now is hard to predict.

Asia called, but the IOC will decide

If there are no admission criteria, there is no Olympic unanimity either, but there is an invitation to perform in Asia. And it’s quite specific. The Olympic Council of Asia, OCA, has decided to invite Russian and Belarusian athletes to the Asian Games (to be held from September 23 to October 8 in China) to give them the opportunity to participate in the selection for the 2024 Olympics. in Paris .

Why? Because our athletes have not yet had the opportunity to go through the qualifying starts in the traditional way, and no. Time is running out to secure Olympic quotas for Paris 2024, and the OCA, according to Acting OCA President Randhir Singh, supports the athletes because there is no room for politics in sport. “The idea is to give them the opportunity to participate in the Paris Olympics.”

Direction Asia to return to the usual arenas? This is what it looks like in theory. Is there anything to fear? Is there a risk of going to Asia to come back? As the famous Daria Domracheva so aptly said, one cannot refuse an outstretched hand, but it would be deeply wrong to be offended by the rest of the world and completely switch to one part of the world. And you have to go step by step, then there will be less fears. Planning everything and writing daily instructions will not work.

So far, the OCA has already solved the problems of obtaining quotas for our athletes: according to the leaders of the organization, the qualifying points from Russia and Belarus will not interfere with the existing system of distribution of Asian medals or quotas for the Olympic Games. In other words, Indigenous athletes from the OCA will not be deprived. The IOC will develop the Olympic quota policy in collaboration with the OCA and the International Federations. And even other medals will be awarded to our representatives.

And – yes: the question of whether the national anthem will sound in Asian arenas and whether the state flag of Russia and Belarus will be raised will also be decided by the IOC.

And the OCA’s statement on the organization’s official website reads: the organization remains on hold, as the IOC continues to explore with international federations ways to return Russian and Belarusian athletes “under strict conditions”. Everything is still wobbly here.

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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