No need for pessimism over Russian Olympic hopes – minister
Russia is hopeful of a positive relationship with international sports bodies and views any pessimism surrounding the participation of its athletes at the Paris 2024 Olympics as premature, according to Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin.
Fears have lingered in Russia that its sports stars could be sidelined from the next edition of the Olympics due to the sweeping bans currently in place because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Speaking on Thursday, Matytsin said his country was still upbeat regarding relations with organizations such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“I see no reason to be pessimistic about our interaction with international organizations, [with] the International Olympic Committee,” Matytsin said on a visit to Petrozavodsk, according to TASS.
“The Olympic Games are ahead, and of course we hope that our athletes will perform at them and will participate in international competitions in the near future.”
An IOC declaration following a summit in Switzerland last week raised hopes of an impending return to international competitions for Russian and Belarusian athletes.
The statement noted a proposal by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to allow athletes from the two countries to compete at events under its auspices, although under neutral status.
The IOC promised to explore the plan as part of the potential easing of restrictions placed on Russian and Belarusian athletes across a wide range of sports.
The sanctions have led Russia to pursue new sporting partnerships and host its own events as alternatives to global competitions – including alongside Belarus.
“Our two countries were under sanctions, but this gave us additional impetus to the development of multilateral relations in almost all sports, in the education system, in matters of import substitution, and to conduct scientific research,” said Matytsin.
“We view this period as a time of accumulating experience, accumulating all the resources that exist in our country, and we see no reason for pessimism. In this we are absolutely in solidarity with all [sports] federations and see only the strengthening of teamwork.”
Matytsin acknowledged that current circumstances dictated a shift towards sporting ties with more friendly countries, including among the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) groups of nations.