Sunday, April 14, 2024

IOC calls Russia’s Friendship Games ‘violation’ of Olympic Charter | Olympics

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The Olympic Committee has called on countries to avoid the games, set to launch weeks after the summer Paris Olympics.

As Russia organises a potential rival to the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee called the country’s “Friendship Games” an attempt to “politicise sport,” in a statement released Tuesday.

“Russia’s plan to hold the Friendship Games is a political action that violates the Olympic Charter, and countries should not take part in them,” the International Olympic Committee statement continued.

Russia said last year it planned to relaunch the multisport “Friendship Games” in 2024, 40 years after its first edition. It was organised by the Soviet Union and eight other countries after they boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, citing safety concerns in what they considered a hostile and anticommunist environment.

Russia is due to hold the event in September, with a winter edition planned for 2026. Russian media reports suggest tens of millions of dollars will be paid in prize money as the country attempts to counter its increasing isolation in international sports.

The IOC has authorised the participation of Russian sportsmen and women in this year’s Olympics in Paris only under a neutral banner and on condition that they did not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“The IOC notes that, contrary to the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter and the resolutions by the UN General Assembly, the Russian government intends to organise purely politically motivated sports events in Russia,” the IOC said in a statement.

“The Russian government created and funded the ‘International Friendship Association’ (IFA), in order to host the summer and winter ‘Friendship Games’,” it said.

Russia’s announcement last year came with their athletes and those of ally Belarus having been largely frozen out of international competition by federations in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

The IOC, which banned the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in October for recognising regional Olympic councils for Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia, has allowed athletes from Russia and Belarus to qualify for and compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics this year.

But they will do so as neutral athletes, without flags or anthems and emblems. Russia plans to hold the first edition of the summer Friendship Games in September with the winter edition planned for 2026 in Sochi, site of the 2014 winter Olympics.

“For this purpose, the Russian government has launched a very intensive diplomatic offensive by having government delegations and ambassadors, as well as ministerial and other governmental authorities, approaching governments around the world,” the IOC said.

“To make their purely political motivation even more obvious, they are deliberately circumventing the sports organisations in their target countries. It is a cynical attempt by the Russian Federation to politicise sport,” the IOC said.

It said Russia’s doping track record and its anti-doping agency’s non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency code was also affecting the integrity of any sports competition held there.

“The IOC strongly urges all stakeholders of the Olympic Movement and all governments to reject any participation in, and support of, any initiative that intends to fully politicise international sport,” the IOC said.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and Sports issued a statement welcoming “the fair stance” of the IOC, but urged the Olympic body to now take a decisive step against Russian and Belarusian athletes.

“We urge the exclusion of athletes holding Russian or Belarusian citizenship from participating in any international competitions, including the Olympic Games, in any status,” read the statement signed by Ukraine’s acting Sport Minister Matvii Bidnyi.

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