The Russian Sports Minister, Oleg Matytsin, condemned the conditions that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) established to readmit his country to international sports: “Our athletes are offered to enter through a half-open door, while creating additional obstacles,” he said this Wednesday.
The IOC issued new recommendations to the International Federations (IFs) during the first day of the Executive Committee meeting that began on Tuesday in Lausanne. On one hand, the sanction of the governments of Russia and Belarus is maintained, which began in February 2022; on the other hand, it urged that individual athletes from those countries return to competing as neutrals, provided that they do not publicly support the invasion of Ukraine or serve in the Army. However, team sports will not have the same exception, which will continue to be completely excluded. “The IOC recommendations are illegal and a separate decision on team sports is openly discriminatory,” Matytsin said on a Telegram channel. His criticism comes after the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, called the recommendations a “farce”.
On the other hand, Ukrainian sports believes that the measure does not go far enough and has called for a total ban. Sports legend Andriy Shevchenko gave his voice to a loud commercial released by his country’s Ministry of International Affairs, in which he reiterates the slogan #BoycottRussianSport: “Because of the war, all football stadiums in Ukraine felt silent. That silence was broken by the screams of the Russians, by the sound of missiles and the explosions of phosphorous bombs. The silence was broken by the cries of Ukrainian women and children,” the former soccer player begins telling the camera.
Former boxer Wladimir Klitschko, Olympic champion in Atlanta 1996 and brother of the mayor of Kiev, spoke out on social networks and again criticized the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach: “Allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag is silly. Bach serves Russia’s interests,” he wrote on Twitter.
In a statement, Nancy Faeser, German Minister of Interior and Sports, described the decision as a “slap in the face for Ukrainian athletes”. Meanwhile, Piotr Wawrzyk, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister, assured that last Tuesday was a “day of shame” for the history of Olympism.
The IOC insisted that it has not yet discussed the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, arguing that it “expressly reserves the right to decide on their participation at the right time”. In other words, it did not set a date for that definition. However, with the different qualifying processes already underway in several sports, the International Federations that follow the recommendations of the IOC could be blocking the participation of Russia and Belarus, as is the case, for example, in volleyball, a sport that has already defined the countries that will compete in their pre-Olympic tournaments without the presence of the Russian National Teams.