When sport and politics collide

Published on March 21st, 2022

Since Russian invaded Ukraine on February 24, international sport pursued bans of Russian or Belarusian athletes and officials in competitions. This includes sailing, with events and class organizations participating in the sanctions.

Included in the boating bans has been the seizure of superyachts from Russian oligarchs, which was intended to pinch the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the sanctions do not allow countries to take ownership of the yachts and while the Russians are still technically responsible for paying for yacht maintenance, they are more likely to pursue legal avenues.

Sport is important to Russia, such that their pursuit of a competitive advantage has found them crossing the line. The country was banned from the Olympics and Paralympics due to a doping infractions, and now Putin is lashing out at the isolation.

In a video message at the Opening Ceremony of “Russia’s replacement event for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, Putin believes the principles of sport have been “eroded” and claims it has turned into a “politically-engaged dictatorship of the anti-doping bureaucracy”.

“Dubious biased refereeing and slander”, “hostile antics”, and “outright provocations” were also among the extraordinary accusations made by Putin

The competition is taking place in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk after the Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from Paralympics due to their country’s involvement in the Ukraine war.

Putin has slammed the decision by the International Paralympic Committee, claiming the exclusion of the two teams was the “height of cynicism”. He also claimed the ideas of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, have been increasingly “distorted”.

Putin also argued that there has been a “loss of authority” and “independence of organizations important for the development of world sports”.

Putin has also been stripped of many sporting titles, including the IOC’s Olympic Order, an honorary ninth-dan taekwondo black belt, and his status as Honorary President of the International Judo Federation. – Full report

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