Russia must not be allowed to use sport to legitimise its barbaric and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine
On June 22, the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Olympic Games. The announcement is the latest development between the IOC and international community on the topic.
PACE stated that Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be able to participate because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The group noted that Russian and Belarusian athletes should also be banned from “all other major sporting events”, and that athletes from these two countries should be allowed to participate in international sporting competitions only after the war ends.
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In other words, they argued that the Russians and Belarusians should not participate in any sports competitions while the war continues.
Participation of these athletes at next summer’s Olympic Games in Paris would set a dangerous new precedent. If Russian and Belarusians were to compete at next year’s competition, these athletes “would certainly be used as a propaganda tool and would de facto prevent other athletes – in particular Ukrainians – from participating”, PACE said in its statement. As such, it is imperative that they not participate.
These announcements came shortly after 36 countries wrote to the IOC last month. In their statement, the collective from North America, Asia, Oceania, and Europe said that “the Russian state, which has broken the Olympic Truce twice, must not be allowed to use sport to legitimise its barbaric and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”.
Thus far, little has changed in the ongoing debate. For now, the IOC continues to insist that athletes from Russia and Belarus should be able to participate in the qualification process for the Olympic Games. In the event that athletes qualify, the IOC stated that these individuals would compete under a neutral banner, rather than under the Russian and Belarusian flags.
This, however, would do nothing to address the ongoing war. Instead, it would reward Russians and Belarusians for their government’s behaviour.
In the event that the IOC does not change its mind, then the coalition of 36 countries may proceed with their international boycott.
If this were to occur, next summer’s competition would lose millions of dollars in revenue as prominent athletes from various parts of the globe would not be competing at the Olympic Games. In addition, international broadcasters could pull out from showing the competition as numerous countries would not be competing. In short, it would be a disaster for the IOC.
In conclusion, Russia and Belarus must be punished for their ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Sports are a right, not a luxury, and these two countries must be punished for their actions. Banning athletes from these two countries would send a powerful message to the world. But if they are allowed to participate, then it would suggest that the world has learned nothing from Russia’s atrocities over the past 16 months.
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