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2 Nov, 2023 18:04

Olympic bosses ‘discrediting’ themselves over Israel – Moscow

The IOC has undermined itself with talk of individual responsibility at the Paris 2024 Games, Russia has claimed
Olympic bosses ‘discrediting’ themselves over Israel – Moscow

The International Olympic Committee’s position that Israeli athletes aren’t responsible for the actions of their government is “outrageous” given the IOC’s blanket ban on Russia on those very grounds, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

“The IOC has discredited itself entirely,” Lavrov told reporters, accusing the body of “demonstrating its political activism time and again.”

“Whatever fits the interests of the West, mainly the US, they support and look for formulas to make it work,” the Russian foreign minister added.

According to Russian Sports Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, the IOC “changed shoes in mid-air” in order to accommodate Israel and the conflict endorsed by the US.

On Wednesday, the German agency DPA published a statement by an IOC spokesperson warning the participants of the upcoming Paris Olympics not to engage in any “discriminatory behavior” against Israeli athletes.

“The IOC is committed to the concept of individual responsibility and athletes cannot be held responsible for the actions of their governments,” the spokesman said, adding that if anything like that happens, the IOC will “ensure that swift action is taken, as during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

During the Tokyo Games, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew from the competition to avoid a possible match with Israel's Tohar Butbul. Nourine and his coach were both punished by the IOC with a 10-year ban.

Meanwhile, the IOC’s position on Ukrainians refusing to face athletes from Russia and Belarus – already forced to compete under neutral flags – is to “encourage … the necessary degree of sensitivity.”

There was no mention of “individual responsibility” last month, when the IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee, claiming its decision to include athletes from Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye – four regions that voted to join Russia last year – “constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter because it violates the territorial integrity” of Ukraine. 

The IOC also claimed that its “values-based course of action” has been endorsed by the “vast majority of the international community,” pointing to the position of the US and its G7 allies. The IOC also interpreted the statement by the Non-Aligned Movement – that athletes from all 206 national committees should participate at the Paris Olympics – as a blanket endorsement of its ban on Russia and Belarus.

In September, IOC President Thomas Bach said that Russian and Belarusian athletes could be allowed to compete in Paris – under a neutral flag – if they “do not support the war and are not linked to the military, or to other services” in their countries.

According to Chernyshenko, Russia has always advocated for equality of athletes and its position – unlike that of the IOC – remains unchanged. Meanwhile, Lavrov told reporters that Moscow will follow through on President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to organize a series of sporting events that will actually be international, universal, and respectful of the principles in the Olympic Charter, “which the IOC has grossly violated.”