Putin speaks on anti-Russian sporting bans
Vladimir Putin says sporting principles have been cast aside in the stampede to hit Russian and Belarusian athletes with widespread bans.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended last month that Russian and Belarusian athletes not be invited to international competitions wherever possible, also urging the two countries to be stripped of any significant sporting showpieces in the wake of the military operation in Ukraine.
Federations across a range of sports – including the likes of football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA – have since heeded the IOC’s advice, while even Paralympic athletes were not immune after the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) banned Russian and Belarusian competitors from the 2022 Beijing Winter Games just one day before they were due to begin.
Reversing an earlier decision to allow the athletes to appear under neutral status, the IPC cited the threat of boycotts from other nations and the “influence of governments” behind the scenes when it took the step.
Russian leader Putin has attacked the situation, saying sport has abandoned any notion that it is not dictated by political influences.
“Even the Olympic principles were trampled on,” Putin said on Wednesday during a meeting on socio-economic support for Russian regions.
“They didn’t hesitate to settle the score with Paralympic athletes. That is sport outside of politics,” Putin added scathingly.
Russian sporting officials have condemned the sanctions against the country as discriminatory, while the Russian Union of Athletes described the situation as “sports genocide.”
Last week, IOC chief Thomas Bach attempted to defend the bans on Russians and Belarusians, claiming it would be a “cheap argument” to call it “a politicization of sport.”
“Whoever so blatantly violates the Olympic Truce with political and even military means cannot denounce the consequences as being politically motivated,” the German added.
In the absence of the Paralympic Games for its athletes, Russia is organizing its own events for sportsmen and women in the Siberian sporting resort of Khanty-Mansiysk, which are set to run from March 18 to 21.
Participants from Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan have also been invited to the competition, known as 'We are Together. Sport'.