IOC blasts Russia’s Friendship Games for what it says is a violation of the Olympic Charter and its politicization of sport | CNN


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has criticized Russia’s so-called Friendship Games as being “purely politically motivated” and a violation of the Olympic Charter.

The World Friendship Games is a multi-sport event set to be held in Moscow in September and – given that as few as 40 Russian athletes might take part in the Paris Olympics, according to Senior IOC Vice-President John Coates – the competition would provide them with the opportunity to participate.

Russian state news agency TASS reported that 5,500 people are expected to participate at the Friendship Games, competing for a total prize purse of 4.6 billion rubles (around $50 million).

President Vladimir Putin said that the event ensures “free access of Russian athletes and sports organizations to international sports activities,” TASS reported.

However, in a Tuesday press release, the IOC took aim at Russia for “the blatant violation of the Olympic Charter” as well as “the infringement of the respective UN resolutions” and “the disrespect for the athletes and for the integrity of sports competitions.”

The IOC’s press release said that the Friendship Games “are deliberately circumventing the sports organisations” of the countries intended to participate and show “total disrespect for the global anti-doping standards.”

A winter edition of the Friendship Games is also expected to be held in Sochi in 2026, the same year that the Winter Olympics are taking place in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The Friendship Games were first staged in 1984 in the Soviet Union while the country was boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics.

“The Olympic Movement strongly condemns any initiative to fully politicise sport, in particular the establishment of fully politicised sports events by the Russian government,” said the IOC.

Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, the IOC announced in December that Russian and Belarusian athletes will only be eligible to compete as individual neutral athletes at this year’s Paris Games.

In order to compete, they must meet eligibility requirements. Teams of Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be considered, while athletes who actively support the war against Ukraine will also be ineligible.

Responding to the IOC’s stance on the Friendship Games, Russian State Duma deputy Svetlana Zhurova said that the IOC “cannot dictate whether or not to hold the competitions,” according to TASS.

“It will be interesting to see how this will look,” Zhurova added. “How could you threaten the athletes at all?”

However, Matvii Bidnyi, Ukraine’s acting minister for youth and sports, said that his country supports the IOC’s criticism of the Friendship Games, which he called “propaganda” and “a demonstration as if nothing terrible is happening.”

CNN has contacted the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in response to the IOC’s Tuesday press release.

Last week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) expressed “ongoing concerns” about the Friendship Games, which it described as an “unsanctioned event.”

A WADA statement added, “In particular, it is of concern that as the event will not take place under the protection of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), the health of and fairness for athletes may be compromised.”

Also on Tuesday, the IOC confirmed that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not participate in the Opening Ceremony of the Paris Olympics, which take place on the River Seine on July 26.

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