The fact that only 35 countries are backing the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Olympic Games is disheartening and disappointing. Russians taking part in the Olympics is a disgusting idea that will have far-reaching consequences for the international order. Their potential participation doesn’t bode well for the world’s democratic future.
I can’t stay silent when the Olympics are, yet again, being used as a tool, even weaponized, to normalize relations with a terrorist state. Anyone who still believes that sports and politics aren’t interconnected during the Olympics is either naive, not too bright, or has an agenda. I have no illusions. My voice doesn’t mean much, if anything, on the global geopolitical chessboard. I can only hope that my opinion will resonate with someone more influential.
Here are six critical reasons why Russia must be banned from the upcoming Olympics.
1. Russian participation in the Olympics is a stepping stone to imperial aggression
We can’t look at the Olympics as separate from what is happening in the world. To Russians, spreading the Russkiy mir (Russian world) ideology is a vital part of their lives. As such, they are going to use every tool at their disposal to expand their influence in all spheres of life. Invasions are as important to them as projecting their so-called imperial image at the Olympics.
Russians don’t see the Olympics and the war in Ukraine as disconnected events. To Russians, they are both fundamentally connected, i.e. a part of a larger Russkiy mir jihad. Letting Russia take part in the Olympics is just going to lead to further demands that have nothing to do with the Olympics.
Jihadis are commanded to kill the infidels where they find them; Russians are commanded to kill their twisted version of the Nazis – meaning anyone who doesn’t want to be a part of the Russian world. We need to treat Russians like the Z-jihadis that they are.
2. Russia will use the Olympics to provoke Ukraine and the world
Is it a stretch to say that abducted Ukrainian children are going to take part in the Olympics one day – proudly posing in Z-uniforms? Hardly. Russians brought children whose mother was killed in Mariupol to a pro-war rally in Moscow. This brainwashing of children, the forceful change of their identities, needs to stop as soon as possible. It’s mind murder. It’s as callous and as criminal as it gets. Influential Poles from the sporting world do what they can to alert the world to the war in Ukraine.
Iga Świątek, who said we should all support Ukrainians, is the best female tennis player in the world. Her powerful voice can’t be ignored, even though many tennis players would love to see Świątek without her Ukrainian ribbon. But Świątek said that the ribbon is going to stay until the war is over. The “what is it going to change if I speak out?” mentality is the main reason why apathy (learned helplessness) and psychopathy are so widespread in our world. Ukrainians and Poles understand the price of freedom. We aren’t going to stay silent.
3. Russian participation in the Olympics will be a sign that rogue empires are privileged
Polish participation in the Moscow Olympics of 1980 was supposed to be yet another example of Russian domination over Poland. But it didn’t go as planned for the Russians. Władysław Kozakiewicz, a Polish track-and-field athlete specializing in the pole-vault, decided to show what he thought of the Soviet audience by making an obscene gesture, known today as Kozakiewicz’s gesture (gest Kozakiewicza). Ukrainians have every right to demonstrate their displeasure during the 2024 Games if Russians are allowed to take part.
4. Russian participation in the Olympics will damage the free world’s credibility
The free world is supposed to be the most powerful bloc of nations on the planet. If the free world can’t block Russia from taking part in the Olympics, then authoritarians the world over will smell the proverbial blood in the water. War isn’t the time for politics. The International Olympic Committee should know that.
5. Russian participation in the Olympics will put a dent in the hopes of freedom-loving people
There’s going to be a lot of fun at the Olympics, I’m sure. If Russia isn’t banned from the Games, it will seem like the war has just disappeared. If Russia isn’t banned from the Olympics, it will be a giant exercise in making the tragedy of genocide invisible. Do we really want to repeat the pattern seen in the darkest days of humanity? The “Carousel by the Ghetto Walls” photograph, taken in 1943, is a haunting example of what making tragedy invisible looks like.
Consider the following quote: “The merry-go-round was already there on day one of the Ghetto Uprising, but wasn’t working. It only started revolving on the second day, and it was a tragic sight. Through the windows we could see it turning, with a barrel organ playing, as the girls’ skirts – red and blue with white polka-dots – fluttered in the breeze. We could see it from the windows, and it was our curse. Here we had burning and killing, while everyone there was laughing and having fun.”
The people trapped behind the Warsaw Ghetto Walls became invisible to the rest of society. We can’t let Russians take part in the Olympics so the crowds can cheer them on while forgetting about the plight of Ukrainians. It’s going to make Ukraine invisible to the world. And, as we know, that’s what Russians want because then they can be as brutal as they want.
6. Russian participation in the Olympics will taint the reputation of the Games
In a sane world, any nation waging a war of aggression on its neighbor would be permanently banned from the Olympics, no questions asked. It boggles the mind so many nations and individuals want to see Russia at the Olympics. There was a time when the Olympics was a fantastic and prestigious event uniting people from across the world. Russian athletes taking part in the Games are going to taint the spirit of the Olympics for years to come, maybe even forever. Watching the Olympics just won’t be the same anymore.
Is this the world we want to live in?
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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