An occasional rant

The IOC should hang their heads in shame. Their unfathomable and naive decision to allow Russian athletes to compete in the Paris Olympics in 2024, with the pathetic excuse that Russian and Belarusian athletes would be allowed to participate if they do not represent their country or an organization affiliated with their country. I wholeheartedly agree with Ukrainian President Zelensky, when he said allowing them to compete would show that “terror is somehow acceptable”. Has the committee failed to acknowledge their history? In 1920 five countries were prevented from competing in the Antwerp Olympics because of their aggression in WW1 and the 1948 London Olympics, Germany and Japan were barred for the same reason after WW2. South Africa was banned for nearly 30 years for its racist government and in the 2000 Sydney games Afghanistan was barred for its regime’s discrimination against women. In 2016 Kuwait was barred “to protect the Olympics from undue government interference” and in 20112, India was barred after it elected corrupt officials.

Have they failed to notice that Russia invaded the internationally recognised sovereign state of Ukraine and as a consequence, many thousands of innocents have been killed on both sides? Are they deliberately ignoring the sanctions that many of its member countries have imposed on Russia and its elite? Have they forgotten Russia’s four-year ban from all major sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency which prevented them from competing in the 2020 Tokyo games and the 2022 soccer world cup?

Their reason for allowing individual Russian athletes to compete is that a precedent was set when it previously allowed athletes from the former Yugoslavia—which faced sanctions by the United Nations—to participate as independent Olympic participants at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. What message does this give? Engaging in war to settle a country’s differences or ambitions was once unacceptable, but in the world of today, it seems it has become acceptable to destroy the lives of innocent citizens with little or no response from the IOC.

Sitting on the fence of judgement, it would be simplest to decree that any nation engaged in aggression with another should be shunned, regardless of who is the more innocent party and let the rest get on with their sport. Alas, it’s not that easy, politics and sport are inseparable, so probably the best solution would be to take a lead from the one organisation created where countries meet, discuss and vote with more or less impunity. So what does the UN have to say about Russia and Ukraine? The Assembly condemned Russia’s invasion as illegal in a resolution on the 2nd March 2022, logically, as Russia is decreed to be in the wrong its government and its citizens should be held accountable. As many western governments have already implemented the harshest of sanctions designed to encourage Russia to withdraw, it seems ludicrous that the IOC would consider anything but a total rejection of their athletes, more so on the heels of its recent state-backed doping scandal.


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