Poll reveals extent of Russian anger at sports bans
The majority of Russians are “upset” at the international sporting bans imposed on their nation’s athletes in response to the conflict in Ukraine, according to the results of a recent survey.
Conducted by Russia’s Public Opinion Foundation, research showed that 73% of those questioned were aggrieved at the widespread sanctions applied to Russian athletes by federations across a range of sports. According to the same survey, 26% of those polled were “indifferent” to the matter.
Russian athletes have found themselves sidelined following a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the end of February that they should not be invited to global competitions wherever possible.
IOC president Thomas Bach told the German media this week that, almost six months later, it was still “not the time” to consider lifting the bans.
Bach has claimed that prohibiting Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing at global events is partly for their own safety.
However, Russian officials and athletes have decried the IOC’s stance as discriminatory and contrary to the position that sport should outside of political interference.
The Public Opinion Foundation survey, which polled 1,500 people at the end of July, also found that 50% of respondents would react “negatively” if a Russian athlete changed his or her citizenship to circumvent the current bans; 39% said they would react with understanding and without condemnation.
Regarding any athletes who leave Russia for the sake of continuing their careers but do not change their citizenship, 55% of those questioned said they would have no negative attitude, while 33% would not approve of such a move.
The citizenship issue has become a hot topic in some Russian circles, with the likes of State Duma Deputy Roman Teryushkov proposing that Russian sportsmen or women who switch nationality to compete for “unfriendly” countries be considered guilty of treason.
The Kremlin has suggested it would not support such a law, while Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin has said he does not anticipate an exodus of talent.
The survey, cited by RIA Novosti Sport, also noted that 72% of respondents believe that the Russian sports authorities should actively push for the re-admission of Russian athletes to international competitions, as opposed to 17% who said this course of action should not be pursued.
Regarding the effect of the sanctions on Russian sport – which have seen the likes of the men’s national football team deprived of the chance to qualify for the 2022 Qatar World Cup – 35% of respondents said the suspensions will have a negative impact. A higher proportion – 41% – believe it will have no particular effect, while 10% said the bans could even have a positive impact.
When asked about their overall impressions of the performance of Russian sport on the international stage over the past five to ten years, 65% said the country has performed “successfully,” while 16% of respondents took the opposing view.