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12 Apr, 2022 12:59

Russia and China united on key principle – Olympic official

Russian and Chinese Olympic chiefs share common ground on a vital sporting point
Russia and China united on key principle – Olympic official

Russia and China stand united in their opposition to political inference in the world of sport, according to Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Stanislav Pozdnyakov.

Pozdnyakov held a video conference with Chinese counterpart Gou Zhongwen on Tuesday, in which the pair discussed continued steps for sporting cooperation between the two countries.

“Perhaps one of the most important points [of the discussions] is that we have a shared position on the unacceptability of the politicization of sports,” wrote Pozdnyakov on Telegram as he summed up the talks.

A longer statement on the ROC website mentioned the continued preparation and competition of Russian athletes “against the backdrop of international sanctions” which were imposed by various sporting federations in the wake of the military campaign in Ukraine.

“Gou Zhongwen, in turn, once again drew attention to the consistency of China, which adheres to the principle of political neutrality enshrined in the Olympic Charter,” the statement added.  

“It was important for us to hear that he expresses the hope that sport will continue to play its unique role in strengthening mutual understanding and friendship, as well as in promoting solidarity and peace.”

The two sides outlined continued bilateral sporting development under the auspices of a program which was bolstered by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.

“We already have a large number of requests from national sports federations, both from the Russian and from the Chinese side, to hold joint training camps and various tournaments in which athletes of our countries, both in Russia and in China, could participate,” said Pozdnyakov.

“The main thing for us is cooperation with the NOC [National Olympic Committee] of China in areas where we can complement each other so that our main beneficiaries – athletes – get additional opportunities.”

Russian athletes have been barred from a host of global competitions following a recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they should not be invited wherever possible, due to the military offensive in Ukraine.

Russian officials have decried the bans as being discriminatory and undermining the principle of sport being outside of politics. IOC president Thomas Bach has dismissed that stance, claiming it is a “cheap argument.”

China also knows first-hand how political pressure can be applied to sports, after the US and a number of its allies declared a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics over China’s alleged human rights abuses.

Russian had been among those to denounce the move by Washington. 

At Tuesday’s conference between Pozdnyakov and Gou, each congratulated the other on success at the Beijing Games.

The hosts surpassed their previous record medal haul for the Winter Olympics, while the Russian team finished second in terms of overall medals earned, behind only Norway.