Navigating the Olympic mission

Published on May 20th, 2022

Three months ago, when Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, it broke the Olympic Truce – a tradition of safe passage for athletes during the Games – which was to conclude after the closing on March 13 of the Paralympic Games.

This provoked a reaction within the sporting community, led by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but followed by sports federations and events around the world, including Sailing. IOC President Thomas Bach remains on message… here’s an excerpt from his speech at the 139th IOC Session, the general assembly of the IOC members, on May 20, 2022:

“Give Peace a Chance” – this was my appeal to the political leaders across the world in my opening and closing speeches in Beijing. As it turned out, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 were but a fleeting moment of hope that peace and the Olympic Truce would prevail.

Unfortunately we could only appeal, because our relationship with the Russian political leadership has dramatically deteriorated over the past years. It deteriorated following the doping scandal, cyber-attacks, and even personal threats to individuals from the IOC and Olympic Movement.

Since the appeal fell on deaf ears, the IOC and the Olympic Movement took immediate actions after Russia, supported by Belarus, started this war. The position of the Olympic Movement on the war is outlined in my “Give Peace a Chance” message which has been widely shared and appreciated by governments and organizations worldwide.

The Olympic Movement strongly supported the message, by widely following the recommendations and by confirming their support again, only last week when we had consultation calls with representatives from the National Olympic Committees, the International Federations, and the athletes. For all this support, I would like to reiterate our deep gratitude to all our stakeholders.

Our actions are two-fold: sanctions on the one hand and protective measures on the other.

We condemned the blatant violation of the Olympic Truce on the day of the invasion. We sanctioned the Russian and Belarusian states and governments that are responsible for this war. We did so by recommending that no international sporting events be held in Russia and Belarus; by not allowing national symbols to be displayed; and even for the first time in our history by withdrawing Olympic Orders that had been awarded to the President and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

At the same time, we also had to take protective measures to ensure the integrity of international competitions. For this we had to recommend not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials to take part in international competitions, or to at least prohibit any identification of their nationality. – Full speech

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