IOC blasts Russia’s Friendship Games for what it says is a violation of the Olympic Charter and politicization of sport

IOC blasts Russia’s Friendship Games for what it says is a violation of the Olympic Charter and politicization of sport - Politics - News

IOC Condemns Russia’s Friendship Games as Politically Motivated and a Violation of Olympic Charter

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed its disapproval towards Russia’s so-called Friendship Games, deeming them to be purely politically motivated and a clear violation of the Olympic Charter.

Set to take place in Moscow during September, these multi-sport events are expected to attract approximately 5,500 participants, with a total prize purse of around 4.6 billion rubles (approximately $50 million). Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that these games will ensure “free access of Russian athletes and sports organizations to international sports activities” (TASS, 2023).

However, the IOC strongly condemned Russia’s actions, stating in a press release that the Friendship Games show “total disrespect for the global anti-doping standards” and blatantly infringe upon the respective UN resolutions (IOC, 2023). Moreover, they accused the Russian government of deliberately circumventing international sports organizations and politicizing sport.

The IOC’s disapproval comes as Russia faces significant backlash for its involvement in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In December 2021, the IOC announced that Russian and Belarusian athletes will only be eligible to compete as neutral individual athletes during this year’s Paris Olympic Games. To participate, they must meet eligibility requirements and not actively support the war against Ukraine (IOC, 2021).

Last week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) expressed concerns about the Friendship Games, describing them as an unsanctioned event. The health and fairness of athletes may be compromised since these games will not take place under the protection of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA, 2023).

Russia’s Friendship Games first emerged in 1984 during the Soviet Union era when the country boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics that year. The winter edition of these games is scheduled to be held in Sochi in 2026, coinciding with the Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Historically, these games have been viewed as an attempt to bypass international sports organizations and establish fully politicized sports events. The IOC firmly stands against this practice and reaffirmed its commitment to upholding the integrity of sports competitions and promoting a fair and inclusive Olympic Movement.