Russia must ‘ensure sovereignty’ – sports minister


Russia will look to develop cooperation in Eurasia and with BRICS countries, said Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin

Russia must ensure the sovereignty of its sports system while seeking new directions to develop relationships in the face of “politicized” sanctions, according to Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin.

Russia has been buffeted by a wave of sporting bans in the wake of the military operation in Ukraine, sidelining its athletes from major international competitions.

Speaking on Tuesday, Sports Minister Matytsin condemned the sanctions as a tool for placing political pressure on Russia, and said the country could seek new opportunities in Eurasia and with partners in the BRICS (Brazil Russia, India, China, South Africa) and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) groups of nations.      

“Under the conditions of sanctions, our priority is to ensure the sovereignty of the national sports system,” said Matytsin in comments shared by TASS.  

“Unfortunately, sport has become a means of political influence, it is used as a mechanism for pressure on Russia. But in general, this is a blow not only to us, but to everything in world sport, according to the Olympic values.

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“Sport should create a powerful ideological foundation for the healthy development of society, we regularly conduct dialogue with industry representatives in order to understand current issues and problems.

“Forming proposals for anti-crisis measures to support the sphere of physical culture and sports [in Russia] is our common responsibility.”

Matytsin added that Russia was not intending to turn its back on the international sporting community despite Western-led efforts to isolate it.

He noted, however, that there was potential for the development of sporting ties in Eurasia and among the BRICS and SCO.

Part of the Russian response to sporting sanctions against its athletes has been to step up efforts to provide alternative competitions for them, such as happened when Russian Paralympians were banned from the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics earlier this year. 

The comments from Matytsin on Tuesday continue a theme he promoted on a recent trip to India, where the Russian minister talked up increased sporting ties between the two nations.

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Regarding Russian sporting sovereignty, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko – a key figure in sport in his homeland – lamented earlier this month that the country imports 90% of its sporting equipment.  

Chernyshenko said Russia must reduce that dependency to become more resistant to sanctions.

“A 90% dependence on imported equipment is a horrendous figure,” said the deputy PM.

“This suggests that we need to develop the economy, produce our own equipment, and bring our sports goods and technologies to the market.”

Noting that Russia could continue to look to India and China in this regard, Chernyshenko added: “But technological sovereignty dictates that we should do this in Russia as well.

“Nobody says that we should close ourselves off, because this is a road to nowhere. If we present a product worthy of export, then it will be worthy.”

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