The IOC (International Olympic Committee) urged several sporting bodies on Friday to cancel and move their events if they intended to hold them in Russia and Belarus. They also urged them to stop using their flags and national anthems.
The request from the Olympic body came after UEFA moved the Champions League final from St. Petersburg to suburban Paris, and after the governing body of skiing and Formula One pulled upcoming races from Russia.
Volleyball, shooting, and hockey all have world championships scheduled to be held in Russia. Hockey is a favorite sport of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his home city of St. Petersburg is scheduled to host the World Cup in May 2023.
Russia breached the Olympic Truce by invading Ukraine on Thursday, only four days after the closing ceremony of the Winter Games in Beijing. Some of the Russian troops entered Ukraine from Belarus, Russia’s ally.
This was the third breach made by the Russians of the Olympic Truce in the past 14 years. Russia invaded Georgia during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and annexed Crimea shortly after the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
IOC Statement Signaled A Toughening Of The Body’s Position In Russia
The IOC statement signaled a toughening of the Olympic body’s position in Russia. IOC president Thomas Bach has long been seen as forgiving of Russian doping scandals and too close to Putin.
Bach implored countries to “give peace a chance” in his opening and closing ceremony speeches in Beijing as Putin — who went to China and attended the opening ceremony on Feb. 4 — sent troops and military hardware to the borders of Ukraine in Russia and Belarus.
The IOC has ultimate authority over the Olympics but recognizes the independence of the governing bodies of individual sports to organize their own events and pick hosts.
Those bodies, the IOC said Friday, “should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes an absolute priority.”
Russia’s national soccer team is also scheduled to host a World Cup qualifying playoff match against Poland on March 24 in Moscow, with a second home game five days later if it wins. FIFA is still weighing if or where Russia can play, though UEFA said Friday the country’s teams could not host games in its competitions.