The Russian foreign minister also weighed in on transgender participation in sport
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is blatantly violating its own principles by recommending a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes, adding that removing Russian participants from events was also a means of reducing strong competition.
The IOC recommended at the end of February that sports federations refuse to invite Russian and Belarusian athletes to international events as a response to the onset of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
That stance has since been adopted by a wide range of sports, while IOC president Thomas Bach has partly defended the decision by claiming it is for the protection of Russian and Belarusian athletes from supposed hostility they would face outside their respective countries.
Speaking to students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations on Thursday, Lavrov accused the IOC of contradicting its own rules.
“When the president of the International Olympic Committee says that we will decide on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in our events later, depending on how the political situation develops, this is a direct disregard for the principles of the IOC Charter, which includes [the point] that it is inadmissible to involve any political considerations and political aspects in the development of the sports movement and sports federations,” said Russia’s top diplomat, as quoted by TASS.
“This is due to competition, I think, no less than with the desire to ‘punish’ the Russian Federation and Belarus, but to remove competitors.”
Lavrov noted that sporting figures outside Russia have recognized that competition will diminish in the absence of Russian rivals – as demonstrated in recent remarks by Norwegian cross-country skiing star Johannes Klaebo.
Lavrov also said that Russia had already adapted to sporting sanctions by introducing new events in place of international ones – such as the recent ‘Spartakiad’ series of competitions – adding that more development with willing partners could compensate.
“We need to look at our own athletes more often, we need to continue developing sports events with the participation of those who are ready to do this,” said the minister.
“We plan to continue sports games within the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), and there will be games within the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).”
Weighing in on a different topic, Lavrov also commented on the debate surrounding transgender participation in sport, suggesting that allowing unlimited access for trans women alongside female-born rivals would be the wrong policy.
“Soon there will already be transgender people, and you don’t understand where to sign up, in which company,” he remarked.
“I think that any normal person, and most of them in the West, after all, understand that this is a pointless policy and something needs to be done about it,” added Lavrov.
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