Many people in Serbia are still convinced that their football players would have been European champions in 1992. There are even more of those who believe that the basketball players from Serbia and Montenegro were the only team that ever had a chance to beat the U.S. Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
However, the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro, could not participate in international sports competitions due to the sanctions imposed on it by the UN. Needless to say, Russia voted in favor of those sanctions in the Security Council.
Athletes share the fate of the country they represent on the international stage. If their country threatens international peace and most members of the world community acknowledge this, then that country is excluded – including from the sports community. Three decades ago it was Serbia, today it is Russia.
However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is acting as if it does not live on this planet. Their bosses make decisions as if they were gods on some modern Olympus, not affected by this world.
The IOC Executive Board recently made a scandalous decision to open the door to the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus at the Olympic Games in Paris next year.
No matter how hard you try, this decision has nothing to do with sports and athletes. It is the grossest negation of everything that international sports represent, particularly the Olympic Movement.
Even if there were no aggression against Ukraine, there should be no place for Russian athletes in the stadiums in Paris next year. Only two months ago, they served their sentence of exclusion from international competitions due to a systematic state doping project.
There are no guarantees that Russia would abandon this monstrous project. Cheating at sports competitions in which everyone participates – from the highest state authorities to medical institutions to athletes – is a deeply rooted Russian model and has been nurtured since the Soviet Union.
Despite proven state-organized sports crime, the IOC has given Russia a chance to continue on that path.
It is even more difficult for the IOC to ignore the greatest bloodshed since the Second World War. They pretend not to see how Russia for the past year has been destroying an independent country, killing top Ukrainian athletes among the thousands of civilians.
The attempts of the IOC and its president, Thomas Bach, to find conditions under which Russian athletes could be at the Paris Olympics have been pitiable.
How, for example, did they plan to enforce that only those who did not “actively support the war in Ukraine” could compete? Would their statement, or the testimony of two witnesses, be enough, or would the IOC just take the word of the Russian Olympic Committee?
How do they think they can prevent a repeat of the gesture of gymnast Ivan Kuliak or anyone else from the Russian team, to get on the podium with the letter “Z” on their jerseys?
Do they really think that Putin would miss the opportunity to promote his criminal aggression against Ukraine in Paris, in front of a global audience of several billion?
Who will prevent Evgeny Rylov, the two-time Olympic swimming champion at Tokyo 2020, from defending his medals in Paris? Rylov participated in a rally in support of Vladimir Putin and the aggression against Ukraine at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium in March last year. Needless to say, he wore the letter “Z” on his clothes.
After all, almost half of the 71 medals that Russia won at the last Olympics in Tokyo were won by athletes from CSKA, the club of the Russian army, which has been carrying out illegal aggression against another country for a year, committing war crimes.
The IOC pretends they know nothing about the case of two-time Olympic champion, basketball player Brittney Griner, who was arrested by Russia and sentenced to nine years in prison just so they could exchange her for one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers.
Russian sports federations and clubs, including the National Olympic Committee, have never been true sports associations. Rather, they are an important part of the state structure and a very effective means of propaganda.
Every sporting success by a Russian is considered an act of patriotism, and in the context of this war of aggression, it is treated as heroism on the battlefield. This kind of manipulation is being allowed by the IOC, trampling on every principle of the Olympic Movement they were supposed to be protecting.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, wants no Russian athletes at 2024 Olympics – not until their country’s aggression against Ukraine stops.
She does wants neither them, nor their fans, nor their country in particular to get any positive image as long as they participate in the destruction of another country.
A boycott of the Paris Olympics, advocated by Poland and the Baltic states, in addition to Ukraine, is the only effective way for the IOC to change its unreasonable decision and not allow Russia to use the Paris Olympics for its conquest goals.
If the gentlemen from the IOC stick to their position, then all the other sports teams should leave Russia and Belarus to compete alone in Paris. The IOC can award them with all the Olympic medals.
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We can only hope that a great majority of countries will agree with and follow the dictate of the title of this article.