Olympic Principles and a War Are Complete Opposites from One Another

Ukrainian athletes are forced to protect the lives of their loved ones and the freedom of the Ukrainian people from Russian aggression. Russian attacks took the lives of hundreds and hundreds of Ukrainian men and women, including athletes themselves, who could contribute to world sports.

Back in December of last year, President Zelensky reported that 184 Ukrainian athletes were killed and more than 110 Ukrainian sports facilities were damaged by Russia’s actions. More than 200 million dollars are already needed for their reconstruction. For example, the Russian military, barbaric and intentionally, have cut the lawn at Borodianka’s stadium with the letter “V”.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering the possibility of returning Russia and Belarus’ representatives to international sports and, in particular, to Paris 2024 Olympic Games, instead of restoring the sports infrastructure of Ukraine destroyed by Russia. The “neutral flag” and the non-use of state symbols for Russian and Belarusian athletes as penalties are not enough.

“Sports outside of politics” — everyone has heard this expression for years, but is it true? Sports are anything but neutral. It is filled with more politics than anyone can admit. Sports is the same politics, it is often used by dictators for their crazy ideas.

Putin has often disguised aggression and used it precisely during large-scale world sports tournaments: the attack on Georgia after the 2008 Olympics, the occupation of Crimea after the 2014 Games and the full-scale invasion of Ukraine after the 2022 Olympics.

The world cannot allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete during an ongoing war. While Russia, with the support of Belarus, is at war with Ukraine, the participation of athletes from these countries at international competitions should be perceived as rewarding aggression.

Thus, the IOC does not hide its intention to bring the Russians and Belarusians back to international competitions. IOC officials have to choose who they want to see at the competition: athletes from a country that defends itself against aggression, or those who represent aggressive dictatorial regimes.