Should Russians be allowed to participate in the Olympic Games in Paris, France, next year? The question is out, and the debate is already raging. For me, the answer is simple and unequivocal: no. My reasons are multiple. Here are a few of them.
First of all, we cannot pretend that Olympic Games are apolitical. Participation or non-participation in games can also have a political character. History has shown it on several occasions. In addition, the symbolism behind the Olympic Games and sports, in general, is not compatible with the behaviour of Russia internationally. The Russians are doing anything but show fraternity towards other countries like Ukraine.
Cases are well documented that local Olympic organizations are often close to the government, especially in countries like Russia and China. Governments jump at the opportunity of hosting or participating in games to promote political agendas, to make propaganda tacitly or explicitly. We cannot provide them with this opportunity.
Furthermore, we cannot contribute militarily, financially and humanly to the legitimate defence of Ukraine and, on the other hand, allow Russian athletes to come and strut as if nothing had happened alongside Ukrainian athletes. This is nonsense and an insult to Ukrainian athletes.
Some will say that it is not the role of the International Olympic Committee to act as a police officer. However, it is not about that but about a moral question that goes beyond the committee's mission. The respective countries will be responsible for demonstrating their coherence with their actions towards Ukraine by abstaining from presenting themselves at the Olympic Games, if appropriate. I count on the Canadian government to show consistency and courage equal to that of the Ukrainians.
Finally, the question of the athletes themselves arises. Some will say that we must not unduly hinder athletes from participating in the games after so many efforts and sacrifices. Do I need to remind you that thousands of Ukrainian civilians are making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives? Russian athletes can stay home and suffer a little bit. Besides, isn't this one of the objectives of international sanctions against Russia, to make the government and its people suffer? Otherwise, what good is it?
I say it, I repeat it, it would be immoral to allow Russians to participate in the Olympic Games next year, and even in any other sporting competition, as long as the war is raging and Russia has not paid reparations.
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