It is no to Russia and Belarus: International Olympic Committee

“Say No to Russia and Belarus” is the latest directive of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to all International Sports Federations (ISFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs).   The decision to keep Russia and Byelorussia out of all international competitions, including World Cups, World Championships, and other events was taken by  the Executive Board (EB) of the  IOC  that met and discussed again the dilemma the Olympic Movement is currently facing after the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government and the government of Belarus  for launching and assisting military operations in Ukraine.  The IOC has also decided to withdraw award of Olympic Order to Valdimir Putin and two other Russian ministers for the “excellent conduct of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic games.” It was ultimately Sochi that led to dumping of Russia for state-sponsored doping of its athletes. The recent sanctions by the IOC and some ISFs may threaten to split the world of sports in pro and anti-Russia groups as had happened in both 1980 when anti-Soviet Union and in 1984 when pro-Soviet boycotted summer Olympic games in Moscow and Los Angeles.
After the Executive Board meeting, the IOC said in a statement that the Olympic Movement was united in its mission to contribute to peace through sport and to unite the world in peaceful competition beyond all political disputes. “The Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, World Championships and World Cups and many other sports events unite athletes of countries which are in confrontation and sometimes even war.“At the same time, the Olympic Movement is united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they are not actively participating in them. We are committed to fair competitions for everybody without any discrimination.“The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma. While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.“This is a dilemma which cannot be solved. The IOC EB has therefore today carefully considered the situation and, with a heavy heart, issued the following resolutions:In order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC EB recommends that International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.Wherever this is not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons, the IOC EB strongly urges International Sports Federations and organisers of sports events worldwide to do everything in their power to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus. Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams. No national symbols, colours, flags or anthems should be displayed.Wherever, in very extreme circumstances, even this is not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons, the IOC EB leaves it to the relevant organisation to find its own way to effectively address the dilemma described above.In this context, the IOC EB considered in particular the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and reiterated its full support for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the Games.The IOC EB maintains its urgent recommendation not to organise any sports event in Russia or Belarus.The IOC EB has, based on the exceptional circumstances of the situation and considering the extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce and other violations of the Olympic Charter by the Russian government in the past, taken the ad hoc decision to withdraw the Olympic Order from all persons who currently have an important function in the government of the Russian Federation or other government-related high-ranking position, including the following:Mr Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation (Gold, 2001)Mr Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation (Gold, 2014)Mr Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office (Gold, 2014)The IOC EB welcomes and appreciates the many calls for peace by athletes, sports officials and members of the worldwide Olympic Community. The IOC admires and supports in particular the calls for peace by Russian athletes.The IOC EB reaffirms its full solidarity with the Ukrainian Olympic Community. They are in our hearts and thoughts. The IOC EB commits to continue and strengthen its efforts for humanitarian assistance. Therefore, the IOC EB has today established a solidarity fund. In this context, the IOC expresses its gratitude to the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Sports Federations that are already supporting Ukrainian athletes and their families.Meanwhile, The International Judo Federation (IJF) has suspended Vladimir Putin as its Honorary President and ambassador.A judo black belt, Putin was awarded Honorary President status by the global governing body in 2008. It has been now retracted as the international sporting community continues to sanction the country for its recent military offensive.”In light of the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine, the International Judo Federation announces the suspension of Mr Vladimir Putin’s status as honorary President and ambassador of the International Judo Federation,” an IJF statement read.Putin was awarded the eighth dan in 2012 by the IJF, becoming the first Russian to reach that level.The 69-year-old Russian President is a keen judoka and has co-authored a book titled “Judo: History, Theory, Practice” and produced an instructional DVD on the martial art in 2008 called “Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin.”He frequents IJF events, including the 2017  and 2021 World Championships in Budapest.Putin as a guest of honour at the London 2012 Olympic Games  also watched judo events.In another development, the Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR)  has joined Poland and Sweden in refusing to play Russia in a FIFA World Cup playoff, not even at a neutral venue.Russia and Poland are due to meet next month, with Sweden facing the Czechs in the same country, and the two winners would then face off for a place at Qatar 2022.An International Fencing Federation (FIE) World Cup event in Sochi was also called off on the final day leaving some events, including the women’s épée event with 101 participants, abandoned at the final stage.  The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has cancelled the World Junior Swimming Championships in Kazan and vowed not to hold “any future events in Russia if this grave crisis continues”. It was to be held from August 23 to 28.This year’s World Swimming Championships (25m) are  also scheduled from December 17 to 22 in the Russian city. The world aquatic body is yet to take a decision about this event.