Russian Olympic boss explains why Asian pivot might be necessary
Russian sports federations should pivot away from Europe and towards Asia if it allows them to break free of the “Russophobic hysteria” which is sweeping the West, according to Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) chief Stanislav Pozdnyakov.
Last week, the Russian Chess Federation announced that it was starting the process of ending its association with the European chess authorities, and would instead seek to join their Asian equivalent.
There have been suggestions that Russian football should take a similar step and switch from European body UEFA to the Asian Football Confederation.
The discussions come after Russian athletes and sports federations were hit with widespread bans in the wake of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
ROC president Pozdnyakov said the hostile environment created by Western officials meant that turning attentions eastwards may be the best option for Russian sport.
“My personal position is that if this allows us to avoid the political, biased, Russophobic hysteria that occurs in the countries of the West and, mainly, in Europe, then I am ready to support such approaches. But, of course, consultation with a wider range of stakeholders is necessary,” Pozdnyakov told Match TV.
Russian chess officials have said it may take several months for the process of joining the Asian Chess Confederation to be completed, and that the move would require approval from existing members.
State Duma Deputy Svetlana Zhurova – a former Olympic speed skating champion – cautioned that Russian entry into the Asian chess community should not be taken for granted, considering that “now there is a culture of canceling Russia in all areas, [and] those who support it may be pressured.”
Fellow Duma Deputy Roman Teryushkov was among those to call on the Russian football authorities to consider switching to Asian competitions, although Russian Football Union officials have previously suggested they consider their future to remain with UEFA despite the current sanctions.
Last week, ROC boss Pozdnyakov held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Gou Zhongwen, in which they reiterated that they stood united against the “politicization” of sport.
The pair also pledged further sporting cooperation between the two nations which, among other things, would include “joint training camps and various tournaments in which athletes of our countries, both in Russia and in China, could participate,” according to Pozdnyakov.