It Is Possible that Russia Will Return to the Olympic Games: How Important Are the Sanctions?

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With just over a year to go before the start of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, the debate continues about the possibility of having Russia again as a competitor in these games.

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LatinAmerican Post | Daniel González Guerrero

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Leer en español: Es posible que Rusia vuelva a los Juegos Olímpicos: ¿Qué tanta incidencia tienen las sanciones?

As the war between Russia and Ukraine progressed, various aspects of politics and this conflict began to affect the two countries. One of these is sport, since for several years Russian and Belarusian athletes have lost the opportunity to represent their country in all official competitions.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared that all international federations must allow these athletes to participate as 'neutral', that is, without representing their country. However, over the months, the possibility of the return of these countries to official competitions has been debated. That is why, with just over a year to go before the start of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, it is not certain what decision will be made in this regard.

Sport Away from Politics

The armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine currently seems to be very far from the end, so the options are already being analyzed to be able to face some of the inconveniences that this war is leaving behind. One of these is the mixture of sports competitions with politics, which left all Russian and Belarusian athletes clearly affected.

With the passage of time, these athletes began to claim their rights to carry out their professions, since with these measures they were isolated from any official competition. Faced with this situation, the IOC began a debate to define whether Russia and Belarus can once again participate as countries in the Olympic competitions.

Given this, several important figures within the International Olympic Committee made statements that were not well received, since they made it clear that it would be great news for sport to once again have the participation of these two countries. Despite the fact that these comments did not go down well with many nations, their arguments are based on the fact that sport cannot be mixed with political aspects.

One of the last people to give his opinion on the matter was Tony Estanguet, president of the Organizing Committee for the next Olympic Games. The legendary French canoeist, 44, declared that “I, in a personal capacity, and I have already spoken about it publicly. I believe in the power of sport, which is universal. I believe that sport has that power to unite, in which cultures from all over the world coexist, in the Olympic village, in the stadiums, where politics is not discussed. I am in favor of that, preserving the neutral part of sport. I think we need it, but I can't decide which delegations will come. My role is not to give an opinion on what is decided, it is to guarantee the more than 200 countries, depending on whether the Russians come or not, that they are well received, and that security is up to par."

Other Drawbacks

The advance of the debate on the return of Russia has several opponents, including Germany, Poland, and Ukraine. These countries made it clear that the IOC has to make decisions regarding their internal policies, so they assume that Russian athletes will continue to participate as 'neutral' in the next fair.

They have also recalled the scandal with the doping of numerous Russian athletes, an aspect that left this country in a very bad light a few years ago. This issue may become fundamental for the decision that the IOC will have to make, remembering that Russia received a strong sanction when all these irregular cases were confirmed in its athletes.

Economic Impact

In addition to not being able to count on its athletes, for many months Russia stopped receiving financial aid from the International Olympic Committee, an aspect that has diminished several of its athletes. This is why many of these athletes decided to be welcomed as 'neutral', since, in this way, they can compete without problems in their sports.

If Russia returns as a country in the next Olympic Games, the IOC must automatically return all economic aid to this nation. This is one of the great objectives of the Russian Olympic Committee, which has been working hard to recover sporting recognition.

Uncertain Future

For now, the uncertainty of the International Olympic Committee continues, which had to make a decision at the end of March of this year. However, when the agreed date arrived, its managers decided to take a little more time to make their decision official.

Time continues to run, and various sports have already begun to define their participants for the next fairs. The IOC must make a decision as soon as possible, which will give the world much to talk about, and for obvious reasons it will have great repercussions.

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