Only ‘dishonest rivals’ want Russia banned – Olympic official
Stanislav Pozdnyakov said restrictions imposed on athletes had no legal or moral basis
Anti-Russian forces within international sport are becoming less noticeable and only “radical, marginalized voices” are calling for continued bans on the country’s athletes, according to Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Stanislav Pozdnyakov.
“Only dishonest competitors continue to dream about th cancelation of Russia. Marginalized, pseudo-journalists who are far from objectivity, and radical voices. There are fewer and fewer radical voices,” Pozdnyakov said in Moscow on Tuesday, as quoted by TASS.
“I have personally discussed the issue of [Russian athletes] returning with the head of the IOC [International Olympic Committee] Thomas Bach and other heads of international sports federations.
“There was never a hint that they do not want to see Russian athletes. We are doing everything so that our athletes can return to the international arena,” added Pozdnyakov.
“Any restrictions based on the principle of citizenship are contrary to both the Olympic Charter and international documents and cannot have legal, let alone moral grounds. Our counterparts abroad understand this.
“The situation is obvious, requiring the consistent abolition of anti-sport restrictions. So far, politics is stronger than sports, which is sad. Although the search for practical ways to solve this artificially created problem is impossible to ignore.”
Pozdnyakov was commenting as he was re-elected to his post unopposed and following a unanimous vote in his favor at an assembly of Russian Olympic officials and other sports figures.
The 49-year-old, who was a four-time Olympic fencing gold medalist during his career, said that primarily Western forces were seeking to “dismantle” the foundations of the Olympic movement.
Pozdnyakov said the priority for his organization was to ensure the participation of Russian athletes at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024, although an “alternative scenario” would see them return for full participation by 2026.
There were signs of hope after an IOC summit earlier this month, where the organization said it would explore an Asian proposal for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competitions under strictly neutral status.
Athletes from the two countries have been suspended from major events across a wide variety of sports following a recommendation issued by the IOC in February because of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.