IOC Takes Aim At ‘Friendship Games’ Russia Plans To Hold After 2024 Olympics

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Russian athletes at Olympics opening ceremony

In a statement made public on Tuesday, the IOC once again condemned the “Friendship Games” that Russia wants to organize after the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. 

On the first day of its executive board meeting, the IOC issued a statement “against the politicization of sport.” A charge against Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which wants to organize its own sporting competitions to replace the Olympic Games. “The Russian government created and financed the ‘International Friendship Association’ (IFA) to host the summer and winter ‘Friendship Games.'” The first edition of the Summer Friendship Games is currently slated to place in Moscow and the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in September 2024, with the Winter Friendship Games scheduled for Sochi in 2026.

Despite Ukraine’s opposition, Russia hopes to send “neutral” athletes to Paris

“To this end, the Russian government has launched a very intensive diplomatic offensive by inviting government delegations and ambassadors, as well as ministerial and other government authorities to approach governments around the world,” the IOC continues, accusing it of “deliberately bypassing the sports organizations of the target countries.”

In addition to violating the Olympic Charter, the IOC sees this as a “cynical attempt by the Russian Federation to politicize sport, and expresses its fears that athletes will be forced to take part in these Games for propaganda purposes. Finally, the body points out that the “Russian government is also demonstrating a total lack of respect for the rules, global anti-doping standards, and the integrity of competitions.” For all these reasons, it “strongly urges all stakeholders in the Olympic movement and all governments to reject any participation in or support for” the Friendship Games.

Thomas Bach takes Roland-Garros as an example

While the IOC Executive Board is still set to debate the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral banner in the Paris 2024 ceremonies, Thomas Bach, its President, reminds us this Tuesday in Le Monde the approach taken by the body that opened the door to them in individual sports. “Look at what’s happening at Roland-Garros. The Russians have been there in recent years. They’ll still be there a few weeks before the Games, on the site where the tennis events will be held. Russian athletes also take part in many international competitions where the status of neutral individual athlete is applied. Some of them refuse to take part under these conditions, that’s their business. But I heard Daniil Medvedev say that he’d be delighted to come to the Olympics, that it’s one of the best experiences he’s had in his career. Why should you be able to play at Roland Garros and then, four weeks later, on the same court, be told: ‘You’re not welcome’ or the person concerned would say: ‘I’m not coming’? It wouldn’t make any sense.”

This post is originally from L’Équipe