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Russia accuses IOC of ‘racism’

Russia accuses IOC of ‘racism’

Moscow has condemned calls by the International Olympic Committee to boycott the Friendship Games

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) call for athletes to boycott the upcoming Friendship Games in Russia amounts to racial discrimination, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

The World Friendship Games, first held in 2022, were proposed as an alternative to the Olympics after Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from various international tournaments due to the conflict in Ukraine.

This year’s games will be held in Moscow and Yekaterinburg from September 15 to 29 and will include competitions in 33 summer sports, including Olympic and non-Olympic events.

In a press release on Tuesday, the IOC urged its member countries not to send athletes to participate and accused Russia of using the competition to “politicize sport” and circumvent international bans.

In response, Zakharova marked the IOC’s actions “absolutely unacceptable” and “Not just politicized, but standing on par with decisions driven by racial discrimination.”

“These decisions show how far the IOC has deviated from its stated principles in favor of political expediency and slipped into racism and neo-Nazism,” said a spokeswoman at a press briefing, according to TASS.

Zakharova insisted that all allegations that Russia is politicizing sport and pressuring other countries to participate in the Friendship Games are “totally unwarranted.” Russia is “open sports interaction with all countries on the principles of equality, non-discrimination and in accordance with the spirit of the principles of Olympism,” Zakharova stated and added that “We stand for honest and fair competition.”

The IOC revealed the quotas of Russian athletes for the 2024 Paris Olympics

She further emphasized that Moscow will continue to use its position in the UN and other international platforms to fight against discrimination in sports and promote equal opportunities for all athletes.

“Reflecting the true Olympic ideals, the World Friendship Games will become the embodiment of friendship, openness, equality and justice. We welcome all athletes and all sports organizations to this true sports festival,” she concluded.

Although the IOC has banned Russia and Belarus from this summer’s games in Paris, it will allow athletes from both countries to compete as individuals under a neutral flag.

The IOC’s director of relations with national Olympic committees, James Macleod, announced on Tuesday that only 12 Russian athletes and seven Belarusian competitors have so far qualified to participate in Paris.