Olympics-Russia’s ‘Friendship Games’ are politically motivated and violate Olympic Charter-IOC

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 6:49 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) – Russia’s plan to hold the ‘Friendship Games’ is a political action that violates the Olympic Charter, and countries should not take part in them, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.

Russia said last year it planned to relaunch the multi-sport ‘Friendship Games’ in 2024, 40 years after its first edition.

“The IOC notes that, contrary to the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter and the resolutions by the UN General Assembly, the Russian government intends to organise purely politically motivated sports events in Russia,” the IOC said in a statement.

“The Russian government created and funded the ‘International Friendship Association’ (IFA), in order to host the summer and winter ‘Friendship Games’,” it said.

Russia’s announcement last year came with their athletes and those of ally Belarus having been largely frozen out of international competition by federations in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

The IOC, which banned the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in October for recognising regional Olympic councils for Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, has allowed athletes from Russia and Belarus to qualify for and compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics this year.

But they will do so as neutral athletes, without flags or anthems and emblems.

Russia plans to hold the first edition of the summer Friendship Games in September with the winter edition planned for 2026 in Sochi, site of the 2014 winter Olympics.

“For this purpose, the Russian government has launched a very intensive diplomatic offensive by having government delegations and ambassadors, as well as ministerial and other governmental authorities, approaching governments around the world,” the IOC said.

“To make their purely political motivation even more obvious, they are deliberately circumventing the sports organisations in their target countries. It is a cynical attempt by the Russian Federation to politicise sport,” the IOC said.

It said Russia’s doping track record and it’s anti-doping agency’s non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency code was also affecting the integrity of any sports competition held there.

“The IOC strongly urges all stakeholders of the Olympic Movement and all governments to reject any participation in, and support of, any initiative that intends to fully politicise international sport,” the IOC said.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge)