Russians can once again hold the Olympics without the national flag and anthem. The Wall Street Journal writes about this with reference to the initiative of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. A similar restrictive step can be applied to Belarus. But is this enough?
Proportionality of doping manipulations and waging a terrorist war
The Russian national team already has the experience of performing under the banner of the National Olympic Committee and with the deprivation of the right to perform the national anthem at the last summer and winter Olympics. However, the sanctions were not imposed as a result of the unleashed war in Donbas or the annexation of Crimea, but because of corruption in Russian sports and the doping scandal, with which the Russians tarnished the principle of fair competition.
Moreover, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was extremely disappointed by the position of the International Olympic Committee, which refused to suspend the entire Russian Olympic team, despite the obvious evidence of a government-controlled doping program in the Russian Federation.
At the next Olympics, Russia can also perform without the national flag and anthem, but the reason is different — a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and subsequent terrorist acts against peaceful citizens. This initiative was taken by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Also, sports officials proposed to deprive the team of Belarus of state signs.
Limiting herself to another statement of support for the Ukrainian people, the head of the committee, Suzanne Lyons, noted that a change in position on this issue is necessary «to preserve the Olympic ideals of including athletes, despite the sometimes unwanted or even violent actions of their governments.»
Consequences of the inclusion of athletes from the Russian Federation in the Olympic family
First of all, how does Mrs. Suzanne Lyons imagine two athletes standing side by side on a podium, one of whom either supports terror against Ukraine or silently ignores it, and the second, whose relatives, friends, or simply close people died or suffered because of this terror? Does everyone understand that those who are against the war in Russia will simply not go to the Olympics because of political restrictions?
Secondly, Belarus is an accomplice of the Russian Federation in the war against Ukraine. Belarus provides its territory for the shelter of Ukraine, helps with weapons, and, not only that, but as of today, it refuses to take all responsibility for military aggression. So, can these two absolutely authoritarian countries, where human rights are completely despised, be brought to a common denominator? Should there still be a degree of guilt for each?
Thirdly, if the Olympics are meant to promote peace and unity in the world, how can there be people who, agreeing with their president, deny the existence of an entire nation?
Olympics vs war: background
During the two world wars, the Olympics were not held at all. The motto of the games became the legendary words: «O sport, you are peace!». This was exactly the idea of the founder of the modern Olympic movement, the Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin (we will not talk about the contradictions of the historical figure for now — it is a separate story), who adopted the principle of the ancient Greeks.
By the way, the Olympic flag — 5 intertwined multi-colored rings — symbolizes the unity of the continents, and the neutral white background is a symbol of peace.
If the Olympic principles during the First World War were limited to one football match, then during the Second World War the tournament was not held at all. In 1940 and 1944, the Olympics were canceled against the background of the war and the shameful games of 1936, in which Nazi Germany won at home. At the same time, the Olympics took place, albeit with a certain level of relaxation of the regime, but also with the harassment of people of «wrong» origin.
At that time, no one understood the consequences of the (de facto) full legalization of the Nazis in the world. Just one example: the German fencer of Jewish origin Helene Mayer was not only admitted to the Olympics but even took silver. After the games, she emigrates to the United States to save her own life, and her uncle will die in a concentration camp.
This is what a compromise with misanthropes leads to.
Opinion of Ukrainian Olympians
Yakiv Zheleznyak, shot put champion at the 1972 Olympics (multiple world and European champion): «I feel sorry for those athletes who were preparing, but I myself lost 5 years because of a principled position. And then he won. It is necessary to influence Putin, the politicians who have arranged the massacre now. This should help, there is no need to allow [the Russian national team to the Olympics — ed.]».
Mykola Milchev, head coach of the Ukrainian bench shooting team, Olympic champion in 2000: «When Russian athletes come out wearing a «Z» T-shirt, what kind of Olympics can we be talking about? When the invasion first started, we asked them questions. It was possible to simply say: «I am against the war» and they would be let in. However, none of them did this. If they are for war, what can be the Olympics?!”