‘Impossible’ for world sport to develop without Russia – minister
Oleg Matytsin described the restrictions imposed on athletes from his country as ‘unprecedented’
Global sport cannot hope to develop without the participation of Russian athletes, according Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin. He added that ties must be maintained between his country and international federations, despite the sweeping current bans imposed on Russia.
“Russia is an important part of international sports. Each committee (in Russia) is doing everything possible to maintain dialogue with the international community,” Matytsin said at an assembly of Russian Olympic officials in Moscow on Tuesday, as quoted by Match TV.
“We see from the international community an understanding that without Russia the development of international sports is impossible. This aspect needs to be given maximum attention, because 2024 is just around the corner,” added the minister, in reference to the Paris Olympic Games in just over 18 months’ time.
Russian and Belarusian athletes remain sidelined from major competitions in a wide variety of sports following an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation issued in February because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Recent signs have indicated a change in stance from the IOC. Following a summit in Switzerland earlier in December, the organization announced that it would explore proposals by Asian officials which could allow the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes under strictly neutral status.
The chair of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Susanne Lyons, later confirmed that her organization was among those to support the steps.
Matytsin described the past 10 months as “difficult” for Russian sport amid “unprecedented sanctions.” Nonetheless, he said the situation had also offered opportunities.
“I am sure that the period of sanctions and restrictions is also a period of opportunity. We need to take a closer look at our reserves, at our domestic competitions. We are increasing competition, especially for young athletes,” said Matytsin.
“Many of you (Russian sports federations) have found yourselves under sanctions, but I ask you not to lose dialogue with the international federations. Communicate as closely and often as possible with colleagues… We will definitely show the achievements for which we are actively preparing,” added the minister.