Hints of Russians’ Return to International Sports Rekindle Debate Over Their Exclusion from Olympics
LONDON — The International Olympic Committee has been criticized for its lack of input on the Russian team’s decision-making and for its decision to cut short the preparations for the 2016 Games.
“At first I thought the IOC had decided to let the Russians take part because of politics,” said IOC member and former Soviet dissident Viktor Sadkovsky. “Russia was invited and then they decided to boycott the games, I think with a few words the IOC let them know that in principle, the IOC would not allow them to take part.”
But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to suspend the country’s participation in the 2016 Games is the result of a policy decision, said Vladimir Solovyov, a former Soviet sports minister, and the acting president of the Russian Olympic Committee, a post that requires the approval of the IOC.
“The decision is not a political one,” said Vladislav Umansky, a sports journalist and journalist for the Russian edition of The Times’s Times Now, an international news channel. “The problem is that they had done all the work they could do and the IOC simply turned a blind eye.”
Putin has claimed the Olympics would be “a propaganda event,” intended to “unite the world” after the United States withdrew from the 2016 Games, and that Russia would be a “harsh competitor” if it were to compete. He has also said that the country would lose the opportunity to host the Winter Olympics if it did not change its policy.
Russia’s decision has sparked debate in Russia and beyond. Several officials in the IOC have criticized Russian officials for using anti-Russian sentiments to garner support for their boycott. IOC member and former IOC member and human rights campaigner John Coates has said that the anti-Russian rhetoric is not a cause for concern in the situation.
“I don’t think there was any anti-Russian sentiment,” said Ivan Radozhitskiy, a sports journalist and co-founder of the group Russia Today. “They are allowed to take part in the Winter Olympics. It’s about what they do in the Games rather than some policy decision.”
The Russian government and the Russian Olympic Committee have said that the anti-