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14 Oct, 2022 09:33

Western politics causing rift in Olympic movement – Russian official

Stanislav Pozdnyakov said outside influence was being allowed to undermine sport
Western politics causing rift in Olympic movement – Russian official

Anti-Russian sanctions are causing a rupture in the Olympic movement which damages the fundamental principles of sport, according to Russian official Stanislav Pozdnyakov.

Appearing at a forum in the city of Vladimir on Friday, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Pozdnyakov spoke out against the widespread international bans imposed on Russian and Belarusian athletes because of the conflict in Ukraine.

“We see what the politicization of the Olympic movement leads to, the split that politicization can cause in the values ​​of the Olympic movement,” Pozdnyakov said.

“To our great regret, the postulates of [founder of the International Olympic Committee] Baron de Coubertin are questioned by our Western colleagues.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended a ban on all Russian and Belarusian athletes from global competitions on February 28 – a stance which was subsequently heeded by federations across a broad array of sports.

Pozdnyakov noted that the circumstances had forced a change in focus for his organization, but highlighted that the ROC’s main priority was to ensure that Russian sportsmen and women were cleared for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“The main task is to resolve the issue of the start of [Olympic] qualifying competitions, which will begin in early 2023,” said Pozdnyakov, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

“In most sports, competitions begin in the spring and summer, a number of sports will not require the participation of our athletes in international tournaments, they can be selected for the Olympic Games through competitions in our country.

“In a number of sports, primarily in team sports, the situation is the most difficult. But we are sure that when the IOC takes a constructive position, all technical issues are within reach [of being solved],” Pozdnyakov added.

Speaking to Italian media last month, IOC president Thomas Bach suggested that Russian and Belarusian athletes could be allowed to return to international competitions, but on condition that they “distance themselves” from the actions of their governments.

Pozdnyakov has already expressed his opposition to those remarks, but repeated on Friday that his organization remained in close contact with the IOC.

“Interaction with the IOC has not stopped for a day since February 24. We are full participants in the Olympic movement, which cannot be said about our athletes yet,” Pozdnyakov said.

The Russian official also confirmed that the ROC will be sending a delegation to a gathering of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Seoul, which runs from October 18 to 21.

“We’re leaving for the General Assembly on October 17. Elections for the positions of the ANOC governing bodies will be held there. The head of the organization and the vice president will be elected. The ROC is directly involved in this part,” said Pozdnyakov.