Olympics-Russian criticism of athletes’ parade ban was very aggressive – IOC

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 1:10 PM

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Russia’s response to the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban its athletes from the Paris Games opening parade was “extremely” aggressive and included personal attacks on the ruling body’s president, the IOC said on Wednesday.

The IOC announced on Tuesday a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes taking part as neutral competitors in this year’s Olympics from the opening ceremony parade, due to the war in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday said the IOC decision was “the destruction of the idea of Olympism” and an infringement on the athletes’ interests.

“Unfortunately, this is only one quote,” IOC President Thomas Bach told a press conference in reference to Peskov’s comment.

“There are more quotes coming from Russia which are extremely aggressive and since some of them are very personal I would like to ask (IOC spokesman) Mark Adams to answer,” Bach said.

Political commentators in Russia noted Bach’s German nationality and made references to the Holocaust in social media posts.

“We have seen some very aggressive statements out of Russia today. One comment goes beyond that,” Adams said. “Linking the president, his nationality and the Holocaust is unacceptable and reaches a new low.”

Relations between Russia and the IOC have deteriorated sharply.

Russians and Belarusians will compete as neutral athletes in Paris and the IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee in October for recognising regional Olympic councils for Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Russia, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, is planning to organise its own multi-national Friendship Games in September, further angering the IOC.

“Everybody who is following the rules is welcome in the Olympic movement,” Bach said. “From the moment the Russian Olympic Committee follow the rules they are welcome. The ball is in their court.

“Our mission is.. to have all the national Olympic committees following the Olympic Charter and Olympic rules. It’s in their hands,” Bach added.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)