‘Sports genocide’ being waged against Russian athletes, says union
The Russian Union of Athletes has released a scathing attack on the sanctions being imposed by global federations against Russian and Belarusian competitors, calling them a "sporting genocide."
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended on Monday that Russian and Belarusian athletes be banned from international competition across all sports, or failing that perform as neutrals without their country's national anthem or flag.
A host of international sporting federations have since followed the IOC’s call by imposing blanket suspensions and sanctions on Russian teams and athletes in light of the military campaign in Ukraine.
Responding to the developments, the Russian Union of Athletes said in a statement shared on the Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) website that it "cannot and will not stay away from the situation associated with unreasonable, inadequate and discriminatory sanctions that international sports authorities are now applying to all Russian and Belarusian athletes without exception."
“Our organization unites outstanding Olympians of different times and generations, of different nationalities and origins,” the statement read.
“Many of them were contemporaries of global political crises, military conflicts and political demarches. But always and everywhere, while adhering to and cherishing the Olympic traditions and values, the Olympic spirit and the unifying power of sport, they advocated for peace, equality and consolidation of the Olympic community.
“The bombings and ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, genocide in Africa, Asia, Latin America. All of this has happened only a short time ago. NATO countries played the role of the ruler of destinies almost everywhere, causing the deaths of thousands of people, including innocent civilians.
“But we do not remember the international Olympic movement or any Russian athletes taking the initiative to ban their colleagues from those countries that were directly involved in military operations on the territories of other states on some pretext or other,” added the statement.
The union said it has been under the impression that the modern Olympic movement was aimed at being an ambassador of “peace and goodwill,” but that the swathes of sanctions imposed on Russian and Belarusian athletes in recent days was a violation of their rights to compete.
“Before our eyes, a tragic destruction of the Olympic family, of which we have always been proud to be a part, is taking place to please political demands and biased external influence,” it added.
“We are strongly against the sports genocide of the Russian and Belarusian athletes. We appeal to all responsible and involved persons and organizations. Reconsider your latest decisions!
“From the historical point of view, they are disastrous to the Olympic community. And they unambiguously make it clear that no athlete today can be confident in the protection and, even more so, in the guarantees of their rights.
“If in the present we are unable to maintain unity and mutual understanding, then in the near future the most negative consequences of this confrontation await us,” the statement concluded.
The message echoes similar statements from Russian sporting officials and athletes.
The Russian Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission announced on Tuesday that it was boycotting a meeting organized by the IOC, citing what it called "ethnic discrimination" being imposed against Russian and Belarusian athletes.