IOC was tricked by Russian prank callers amid tension ahead of Olympics

The International Olympic Committee believes its president Thomas Bach fell prey to a prank telephone call amid rising tensions with Russia over restrictions on its athletes competing at the Paris Games.

The IOC on Thursday detailed a call from people claiming to be from the African Union a similar trick to one played by Russian callers on Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni in September.

In Meloni’s call, she acknowledged fatigue with the war in Ukraine believing she was talking with officials of the African Union.

The IOC said it had calls with a person pretending to be the chair of the African Union Commission wanting to discuss a statement on the politicisation of sport.

The IOC and Bach have publicly criticised the Russian state including over plans to organise an international multi-sports event in September, weeks after the Paris Olympics close.

Russian athletes who pass vetting to compete in Paris also will not take part in the opening ceremony parade of boats on the River Seine, the IOC decided this week.

There appears to have been a new incident in the Russian disinformation and defamation campaign against the International Olympic Committee and its president, the Olympic body said in a statement.

Fake calls purporting to be from the African Union Commission appear to have been made by the very same group that has already attacked a number of global political leaders and other high-ranking personalities in the same way, the IOC said.

Russian pranksters Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, known as Vovan and Lexus, also tricked the president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, in November 2022.

Duda believed he was talking to France’s President Emmanuel Macron.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mar 22 2024 | 10:20 AM IST

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