Russia finally got it right


Though there’s a fierce war raging in and around Israel, life goes on elsewhere in the sporting world, including the exemplary democracies in and around Scandinavia – excluding Russia, of course.

Last week, however, a voice of reason emanated from Moscow, a voice belonging to the otherwise rather unhinged foreign minister of Russia. How dare the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suddenly warn against ‘discriminatory behavior’ against Israeli, and only Israeli, athletes? It’s self-evident, according to Sergei Lavrov, that athletes cannot be responsible for the decisions of their government.

Yet the IOC recently punished the Russian athletes for the ugly action of their government. The lords and ladies of the IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because of the Kremlin’s decision to incorporate the sports organizations of the occupied areas of Ukraine into the ROC. Strangely, when the suspension was solemnly announced there was no mention of the Kremlin; the lords and ladies pretended to perceive their Russian equivalents as independent actors instead of pointing the finger at Putin. And in the same breath the IOC insisted that ‘athletes shouldn’t be punished’ for the actions of governments!

‘This is, of course, outrageous,’ argued gospodin Lavrov, and on this point I find it hard to disagree with him.

Take, for example, the Israeli athletes. They obviously shouldn’t be boycotted because of the so far unproven war crimes of the Israeli army, just as the Palestinian athletes mustn’t be punished for the havoc wrought by Hamas. In the same vein, all sanctions against the ROC and the Russian athletes ought to be immediately lifted.

Life is rarely fair, however, especially so in the realm of Olympic sports. Since unfairness will probably reign supreme as we move forward to the next Olympic year, I whole-heartedly hope that the Russian athletes will discover and cherish the fairest sporting event ever devised by the human mind instead of settling for the ‘truly international, universal’ games touted by their illegitimate foreign minister.


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