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Thursday, March 23, 2023

The neutral status of the athletes of the Russian Federation launched the Russian roulette of the boycott

Russia is already preparing for the fifth Olympic Games beyond the norm. Not that we’re getting used to it, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t waited. The last three Olympics were held without national symbols: at the Games of Pyeongchang-2018, Tokyo-2020, Beijing-2022, our athletes performed first as Russian Olympic athletes, then as a team ROCK.

The IOC Executive Committee made a few days ago a stuffing of information on the possible admission of our athletes to international departures in a neutral status. And he began to discuss Russia’s alleged admission criteria with the main federations. In the heads and states of all confusion and everything is blurry. But one thing is certain: we are talking about international competitions in general and qualifying starts, which are entirely under the jurisdiction of international sports federations.

But a year and a half remains before the Olympic Games in Paris, the reference to a neutral status with regard to them is obvious. What Thomas Bach has already said after the executive committee: it is possible to leave Paris-2024 in a neutral status, because “the suspension does not correspond to our Olympic values”. And he even strongly shrugged his shoulders in response to the flash reaction of Ukraine, which announced a boycott: “it is contrary to the mission of the Olympic movement”.

And then the IOC made another statement, which followed from the office of the President of Ukraine, which accused Bach himself and the entire organization of corruption and encouraging Russian actions. And “in the strongest terms” rejected this and other “slanderous statements”. Rightly remarked: they cannot serve as a basis for “any constructive discussion”.

to betray or glorify

But the Ukrainians are not the only ones ready to interrupt the constructive discussion. The boycott has no nationality. There is no creation there. There is destruction and powerlessness. This impotence and resentful protest underlies the statements of those currently in Russia who want to sever all ties with the Olympic movement. They deprived us of the flag and the anthem – so we don’t play.

Not games, you say? Just the Games, and there is no inflection in words and a new trampling of patriotic feelings. They won’t even give us a ROC flag and they won’t even allow Tchaikovsky’s music, like at the last Games? Yes, neutral status will not allow this. Everyone is offended, and I just want to hit at least someone. Combat is good, if not for self-destruction. And it’s not even that Russia is no longer used to performing at major competitions “not like everyone else.”

They say that sport is a reflection of politics. But politics itself is also a sport: who will speak louder, faster, more clearly, more thoughtfully. And what is most important to us politically today? To be at the Games or not to be at all? (We do not take the option, unacceptable for the majority of the athletes themselves, with the obligation to sign a petition condemning the actions of the country). Retreat to the joy of the opposition known for years, or show our sport, which is alive and able to win even in such conditions?

And is it the self-esteem that many are clamoring for today, not allowing the idea of ​​participating in the Games in a neutral status, to say: fuck you! Or to sit entire sports schools of children in front of the screens with their performances: look, they haven’t given up and won’t give up. Where is the betrayal, and where is the struggle for the glory of the country?

To be honest, it’s already an unclear story today – the rule that if a country demonstratively refuses to participate in the Games, it will be punished. There were boycotts, but there was no punishment for them. And the Olympic Charter, as you know, is changing before our eyes. Recent years and events have shown that the rules of the game are written “here and now”.

Questions – why “they” and why “they” can? – without meaning. These double standards – not to be erased from life forever, but at least to be leveled – can only be time and a change in the world situation. But we ourselves must not exclude ourselves from the Olympic movement. Just as it is not customary in sport to cheer on rivals, it is also impossible to play against yourself.

Ultimatum and coalition

It is from the boycott that our foreign adversaries want to make a weapon of mass sporting defeat. Soloist Poland. Last year, his sports minister organized a letter from 35 countries demanding that Russia be banned from the IOC altogether. Today, however, he said it was impossible to represent our athletes at the Games, so we must activate countermeasures. And the main responsibility in this matter, according to him, lies with Poland and the United Kingdom. “Poland and the UK are at the forefront of efforts to build a coalition against Russia and Belarus’ participation in the 2024 Paris Olympics.”

The Poles assume they can resort to an ultimatum. For example, if a neutral status to speak in Paris is given, then the formed coalition (for the moment it still does not exist) will present it to the IOC. But this challenge will also depend on the possibility of forming an effective coalition of countries, without which the organization of the Games will not be possible.

NOC of Poland – favorable. The Baltic countries, of course, almost joined. Also – in Denmark, again – the Norwegian sports confederation is ready “to maintain close contact on this question with the fraternal organizations of Northern Europe”. Such a touching unity of souls. Of course, this is all unofficial.

One of the latest statements flying in the news space, belongs to the Secretary General of the Latvian Olympic Committee Georges Tikmers, made on television. Latvia’s position is as follows – “if” these Olympic Games were held now and “it was expected” that athletes from Russia and Belarus would participate, “I think” the Latvian team would not go not at these Games. A set of words characterizes itself, and is simply thrown on the air for the moment.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be an official announcement. Nothing will stop the frenzy. Can anyone answer the question: should the flag be taken away from Poland and potential coalition members? To engage in political affairs?

… By the way, this Zhorzhs Yanovich Tikmers is a Soviet rower, Olympic silver medalist, Honorary Master of Sports of the USSR. He won the Olympic medal in Moscow-80 as part of a swing four with a coxswain. At the same Games that many countries boycotted after the Americans.

The boycott of Moscow-80 was followed by ours: the refusal of the countries of the socialist camp of the Los Angeles Games. The refusal, which many later, including leaders, will appreciate as an emotional propaganda response. This reaction was in the style of real magnets with five rings, our Misha and the words “Kill the Russian Bear”. But that’s when the sports world was supposed to find that antidote: a boycott is a road that leads nowhere.

… Will there be a split in the Olympic movement? It has happened before, and Thomas Bach himself is to blame for it, having proposed “protective measures” to withdraw our athletes. He let the goats into the Olympic garden. Now, after eating everything green, they want to enter new spaces. But, by the way, the United States was the first to advocate the return of Russia to international competitions even before the announcement of the intentions of the IOC Executive Committee. They also expressed: “in a neutral status”. And Paris 2024 is ready to welcome Russia, as I have already said. So let them now face off against a potential coalition for now.

… Should we go to the Games in neutral status? I hope that this time the emotions do not prevail. And the flag and the anthem, as the athletes say, we ourselves will win in the competition.

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