Status: 08.12.2023, 16:27 PM
By: Nico-Marius Schmitz
In Beijing 2022, Russia was also only allowed to compete with neutral athletes. © Photo: dpa
So-called neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete at the 2024 Olympics. This has far-reaching consequences for world sport. A commentary by Nico-Marius Schmitz.
For months, world sport had pretended to show solidarity with Ukraine, which had been bombed by the Russian war of aggression - and showed in one fell swoop that it was once again just empty promises. Because on the biggest stage of sport, the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, Russia will be there. As was to be expected (or feared), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has allowed so-called "neutral" athletes to compete. A disastrous decision on many levels.
First of all, the so-called neutral athlete is a fairy tale. Or does anyone really seriously believe that the Ukrainian athlete forgets that he is facing a Russian just because the Russian national anthem was not played before? Refused handshakes in tennis or the case of fencer Charlan – the past few months have shown that a sporting clash between Ukraine and Russia does not go as smoothly as officials make it out to be. And: Already at the Games in Beijing last year it became clear that Russian athletes are also recognizable as Team Russia.
From a moral point of view, it is highly reprehensible to expect a Ukrainian athlete who may have lost family or friends in the war to do so. And a legal opinion published on behalf of the German Olympic Sports Confederation made it clear that there is no discrimination against Russian athletes. The fact remains: the fate of an entire country must be placed above the fate of individual athletes whose Olympic dreams are shattered.
IOC decision: In the end, there are only losers, except for Russia
The DOSB, which had recently been a proponent of the exclusion, had also caved in as part of the offensive for its own Olympic bid and followed the IOC line. But the IOC has not created a suitable framework for the reintegration of Russian athletes. In many federations, such as the World Athletics Federation, Russian athletes are not allowed to compete and therefore cannot qualify for the Olympics. In addition, confidence in the independence of Russia's anti-doping system "remains very low," as the World Anti-Doping Agency put it. The result is a patchwork quilt in world sport. In the end, there are only losers, except for Russia and warmonger Putin.