IOC accuses Russia of ‘politicisation of sport’ with Friendship Games

The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday accused Russia of “politicising sport” by launching its so-called Friendship Games from next September.

The new competition will compete with the Olympic Games and Russian organisers are also planning a winter edition.

The IOC, which has authorised the participation of Russian sportsmen and women in this year’s Olympics in Paris only under a neutral banner and on condition that they did not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, called on the sporting world and the governments invited by Moscow “to reject any participation in and support of” this event, it said in a statement.

Announced several months ago, the first edition of the Summer Friendship Games is “planned to be held in Moscow and Yekaterinburg” next September, the IOC said, with the first winter edition to take place in 2026 in Sochi, venue for the highly controversial 2014 Winter Olympics.

These two initiatives are in addition to the recent Games of the Future in Kazan, which combined traditional disciplines and e-sport, and the BRICS Games which take place in the same city in June.

Russian authorities claim that “athletes from more than 50 countries” will take part in the latter.

The IOC is not criticising the Russians for creating multi-sport competitions outside its aegis since several already exist, including the Commonwealth Games and the Jeux de la Francophonie, but for doing so via a “very intensive diplomatic offensive” through direct contacts with governments around the world.

“To make their purely political motivation even more obvious, they are deliberately circumventing the sports organisations in their target countries,” said the IOC statement.

“This is a blatant violation of the Olympic Charter and an infringement of the various UN resolutions at the same time.

“It is a cynical attempt by the Russian Federation to politicise sport.”

The IOC has also accused Moscow of “total disrespect for the global anti-doping standards and the integrity of competitions”, citing concerns made last week by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in light of the institutionalised doping at the Sochi Games 10 years ago.

“This position is reinforced by the fact that Russia’s national anti-doping agency (RUSADA) is currently non-compliant with the code, there is currently no WADA-accredited laboratory in Russia and overall trust in the anti-doping system in Russia remains low,” the IOC said.


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