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The team of Russia is barred from using the national flag, like in this photo from 2008. Photo: IOC

The IOC and the crisis of the Olympic movement

The Olympic Games were meant to promote world peace by the means of sports competition, channelling rivalry between countries into peaceful games. This idea is now being undermined by the decision to ban Russian athletes to compete under their national flag. In the times of heightened tensions, the Olympic Games’ raison d’être is being degraded when it is needed the most.

Published: July 27, 2021, 1:06 pm

    The world Olympic movement has always been based on the principles of equal and impartial attitude towards athletes – representatives of all states of the world. The Olympic Games were designed to stop wars and political strife, to unite representatives of all countries of the International Olympic Committee. One of the main Olympic principles was peacekeeping – the opportunity for the strongest athletes to meet under national flags for a peaceful competition. We seem to be losing all this today.

    We’ve seen attempts to remove countries from participation in the past, and this always ended in a deep crisis for the Olympic movement itself. These attempts were followed by boycotts, political protests and attempts to organize alternative games.

    In any case, violations of anti-doping laws have never before this day become a reason for excluding a whole nation from participation in the Olympic Games, as it has now become with the Russian national team. Logic, common sense and the very principles of the Olympic movement suggest another punishment for convicted athletes: individual guilt results in individual punishment. In the most extreme case, the participation quota for individual sports was reduced. The principle of collective responsibility for dubious WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) verdicts and the deprivation of Russia’s flag and national anthem is an unprecedented case.

    The tragedy of the situation lies in the fact that Russia was barred from performing under its own flag. Today there is a lot of tension between the West and Russia, some call it a new cold war, thus for the Olympic Games to fulfil its original goal, the first country to involve in peacekeeping sports rivalry should reasonably be Russia. And Russia is ready for this rivalry.

    Naturally, the Russian society perceived the deprivation of state symbols of its athletes as a national insult. A slap in the face of not only the politicians, but the people it self. Russians love sports, in the same way as most of the peoples of other nations do. It’s a national pride. In response, Russian civil society, including many famous people, took to social media and launched the not very tolerant hashtag #wewillROCyou. ROC is the permitted name of the Russian national team – Russian Olympic Committee. They address this message either to the IOC, or to the world community, or to athletes of rival teams. As a result, the IOC itself created political tension in relations to one of the strongest sports powers, sowed mistrust among Russians towards international organizations, and rallied Russian society and power even more.

    Maybe the IOC should be more concerned with the question of men participating as disguised women, shattering records of real women? Where is the fairness in this?

    Instead of healthy rivalry, communication and peaceful exchange of experience between national teams, the IOC (or those who stand behind it) organized another hotbed of international tension, and turned the Olympic Games into a pretext for another information war.

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