Next week, the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee will make a decision on the admission of Russians and Belarusians to the competitions, which should become qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris. This was reported by the press service of the organization the day before.
The head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, visited the Ruhr Political Forum in Essen on the eve of the event. He was not very hospitable: about 200 people came out to demonstrate and opposed the participation of domestic athletes in the Games in 2024.
The same position is held by the NOC of Germany, although they do not plan to boycott the competition, if Russians and Belarusians are still allowed. They are trying to influence the IOC and politicians of other countries. In particular, in the UK it was proposed to turn to the sponsors of the Olympics.
However, being in a difficult situation, Bach tries to maintain the course taken at the end of last year, and does not change the rhetoric. Speaking at the forum, the functionary once again stressed that sport should not become a tool in the political struggle, otherwise it will lose its unifying power.
"We have to be politically neutral, but not apolitical ... We understand perfectly well that the world is ruled by politics, that our decisions have political consequences, and we are forced to take this into account in our judgments. But we should not mistakenly arrogate to ourselves the role of judges in political disputes, otherwise we will be crushed by these political forces," Bach said.
Also, the head of the IOC expressed disagreement with the position of the Ukrainian authorities, demanding "complete isolation of all Russians."
"We have a dilemma. We sympathize with the people and athletes of Ukraine, experience suffering together with them and understand them. On the other hand, as a global organization, we have a responsibility to respect human rights and the Olympic Charter. Neither of them allows such total isolation of people with a certain passport, "Bach admitted.
However, it seems that the head of the IOC should have said these words a year ago instead of removing the Russians and Belarusians, since now the process of their return to the international arena is even more painful and, most likely, will take a long time.
The first organization to heed Bach's recommendations at the beginning of the year was the International Fencing Federation (FIE). It allowed Russian athletes to compete in competitions under its auspices in a neutral status. This led finland, Germany and Sweden to refuse to host the World Cup stages, thus expressing disagreement with this decision. In total, about 50 countries opposed the admission. And surely they will also try to react in some way.
A vivid example of this is the World Boxing Championships, which this year were boycotted by 11 states, including the national teams of the United States and Great Britain. The reason is the participation of Russians and Belarusians in tournaments with a flag and anthem. Fortunately, AIBA did not back down and did not change its mind. It remains to be hoped that the FIE will have enough strength to fight, since not everyone copes with the pressure.
So, the IIHF on the eve extended the suspension of the national hockey teams of Russia and Belarus for the 2023/24 season, explaining this by security issues. According to the head of the organization, Luke Tardif, they do not know in which country to hold the World Cup, if domestic athletes are allowed to participate in it.
"The pressure comes from everywhere. Some are in favor of bringing Back Russia and Belarus, some are in favor of playing without them. But this does not affect our decision in any way. The only question that the IIHF must answer is: is it possible to organize a world championship in the Czech Republic, Sweden, the United States and Finland in a secure environment with Russia and Belarus? We said: no, it's too early," Tardif explained in a comment to Sport-Express.
Other international organizations are also in thoughts that are waiting for recommendations from the IOC on neutral status and do not yet understand on what principle to allow athletes. Earlier, Bach spoke categorically: athletes should not support the SVO. But just what do you mean by that? Keep track of all the athletes who were spotted at the festivities, left posts on social media, or supported their country in interviews? To sign a paper following the example of the FIA or simply not to speak out on this topic, as in tennis? Based on the last speech of the head of the IOC, this item will remain at the discretion of the federations.
"Our principles clearly and clearly state that any active support for hostilities, including the demonstration of Z symbols, is prohibited - this applies to publications and much more. Those who support the war in this way should not be allowed to compete – or they should not, if we are talking about events under the auspices of international federations, for which we thus announce only a recommendation, "said Bach.
This quote is very interesting. On the one hand, the German lifts the veil of secrecy and explains what is included in the concept of "neutral status" for the IOC. On the other hand, he corrects himself, replacing the word "impossible" with "should not". After all, in this case, many federations have the right to simply turn a blind eye to this point, as they have already done in boxing and fencing.
At the same time, another point is important. Bach is sure: at the meeting of the IOC Executive Committee, all the recommendations will definitely be adopted. Therefore, it is not long to wait for steps from the organization.
Pity in this case the Ukrainian athletes, who continue to be pressured by their own government. Officials demand that they boycott competitions with the participation of Russians and Belarusians. After all, if the trend of admitting domestic athletes in a neutral status continues, then they will now be isolated from international sports.