Oceania NOCs back IOC’s solidarity with Ukraine

Ricardo Blas

The 17 members of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), its President Dr Robin Mitchell, Vice President Baklai Temengil-Chilton, Secretary-General Ricardo Blas and the ONOC Executive Board support the statement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Solidarity with Ukraine, sanctions against Russia and Belarus, and the status of athletes from these countries.

ONOC supports the three parts of the IOC Statement and the subsequent robust consultations with all stakeholder groups of the Olympic Movement in particular with athletes.

ONOC and its membership upholds and advocates the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement to create peace, unity, and a better world through sport.

Meanwhile, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov has been swiftly closed down by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today after he complained about the potential conditions that athletes from the country may be forced to compete under if they are allowed to take part at Paris 2024. 

With the IOC remaining open to the reintroduction of athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus, after previously recommending their indefinite suspension due to their nations’ involvement in the invasion of Ukraine, other nations have threatened a boycott of events including their athletes.

Ukraine are joined by the likes of Norway, Poland, Estonia and Latvia in opposition of Russia participating at Paris 2024.

But Pozdnyakov is continuing to object to the criteria likely to be set by the IOC, including Russia having to compete under a neutral flag and the national anthem not being played at medal ceremonies. 

Pozdnyakov has also complained about plans for athletes having to speak out against the war in Ukraine potentially being set as one of the conditions to compete at Paris 2024.

“Russians must participate on the same conditions as athletes from other countries,” he told the country’s official state news agency TASS.

“We do not welcome additional conditions and criteria, especially those that include some kind of political component that is absolutely unacceptable for the Olympic Movement.”

The IOC, however, were quick to counter the comments of Pozdnyakov, who last year had publicly encouraged Russian athletes to join the armed forces to take part in the war against Ukraine.

“The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian State and Governments are not negotiable,” the IOC said. 

“They have been unanimously confirmed by the recent Olympic Summit meeting on 9 December 2022. 

“They are: 

“No international sports events being organised or supported by an IF (international Federation) or NOC (National Olympic Committee) in Russia or Belarus. 

“No flag, anthem, colours or any other identifications whatsoever of these countries being displayed at any sports event or meeting, including the entire venue. 

“No Russian and Belarusian Government or State official should be invited to or accredited for any international sports event or meeting.”

Pozdnyakov was one of only three NOC representatives at the Olympic Summit, along with China and the United States, despite the invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier, Pozdnyakov wrote on his Telegram channel that this would only isolate their domestic athletes for years to come.

Next year’s Olympics in the French capital will mark the 10th anniversary of the last time a full team from Russia competed in the Olympics under its own flag and anthem at Sochi 2014.

For Rio 2016, over 100 Russian athletes were prevented from competing following the revelations about the country’s state-sponsored doping programme.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the country competed under the “Olympic Athletes of Russia” banner and for the re-arranged Summer Games at Tokyo 2020 and the Winter edition at Beijing 2022 they were branded as the “Russian Olympic Committee”. 

There are calls within Russia for them to agree only to take part at Paris 2024 if they can compete under their own flag and with the national anthem.

But Pozdnyakov fears that missing Paris 2024 altogether could have a devastating effect on his country’s Olympic future.

“Everyone who is now calling on us to boycott the Olympics, regardless of the reasoning, should be clearly aware that this kind of demarche is a direct way to isolate all domestic sports for at least two Olympic cycles,” he wrote on Telegram.

“That is, the flag, the anthem, our athletes will not be in most competitive international competitions for eight years. 

“This is exactly what our opponents are striving for. 

“At the same time, history does not know cases when a boycott would have a positive effect on the development of sports in a single country.”

Boycotts took place at the Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984 Olympics, during the period of the Cold War between the two world powerhouses at the time, Soviet Union and the United States.

After Ukrainian Sports Minister and National Olympic Committee of Ukraine President Vadym Guttsait did not rule out a boycott, Pozdnyakov called for them to not take action.

“I would like to note that the ROC in its activities strictly complies with the Olympic Charter, does everything necessary in this part so that the fundamental goals and mission of the IOC operate on the territory of the Russian Federation,” he told Russia’s official state news agency TASS.

“Any attempts to boycott the Olympic Games have never led to the success of the country that hosted them.

“We urge our Ukrainian colleagues to abandon such boycott practices.”

Pathways for Russian inclusion floated so far include allowing the country to compete in Olympic Council of Asia qualification events for the Games, while some National Federations in the country are considering a move over to Asia in continental competition.

Pozdnyakov added support had come from several National Olympic Committees, including China.

But Pozdnyakov warned that it could take the IOC another month before developing a qualification criteria for Paris 2024 for athletes from Russia and Belarus. 

“Now international sports federations are consulting with the IOC, on their basis conditions and approaches will be developed, which the IOC will publish later,” he added.

“At the moment, the political component is unacceptable for the international Olympic Movement.

“The IOC continues consultations with International Federations on the issue of Olympic qualification. 

“Each sport has a unique situation, so it is quite difficult to approach a universal approach.  “The IOC has allocated at least a month for this work” .

3 Responses

Comments are closed.