Paris 2024: impossible “neutrality” of Russian athletes at Olympics

According to specialists in the Olympic Movement, the question of neutrality, raised again by the International Olympic Committee, is completely illusory.

by Aude Lasjaunias and Nicolas Lepeltier

By paving the way towards a return of the Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral banner at the 2024 Paris Games, did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) bring the wolf into the sheepfold? In its declaration of January 25, the body based in Lausanne (Switzerland) is assorted its proposal for “strict conditions”: individuals – national teams remain excluded from the games – “must not represent in any case their state or any other organization of their country “and only would be authorized to compete for athletes who” will not have been against the CIO peace mission by actively supporting the war in Ukraine “.

The conditions that the IOC recalled on Tuesday, January 31, in response to the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdniakov, who had declared earlier in the day wanting to raise any sanction and restriction. But according to specialists in the Olympic movement, the question of neutrality is completely illusory. “Whether the athletes compete under neutral banner or not, Vladimir Putin receives them at the Kremlin and stages themselves with them,” quips Patrick Clastres, professor at the University of Lausanne.

The specialist in history and geopolitics of sport adds, in support of her words, the example of player Aryna Sabalenka, who had recognized “everyone knows that I am Belarusian”, after her victory on January 28 At the Australian Open – Tennis is one of the rare federations that allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under neutral banner.

“There is no need for hymn and flag. Besides, Loukachenko [the president in power in Minsk] hastened to greet his coronation, continues Patrick Clastres. It is good that There is a political use of the victories of athletes, including under neutral banner. “

” Bulle of patriotism “

In Russia, perhaps more than elsewhere, the links are close between sport and Kremlin. It is not uncommon to see in the gymnasiums of the Federation, from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, symbols of united Russia, the political party in the service of Vladimir Putin.

Even more in high -level structures, argues Lukas Aubin, researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS): “Russian sportsmen are put in a bubble of patriotism from an early age”. “It therefore becomes delicate to imagine that there will be no political demonstration of these athletes”, even under a neutral banner, explains the Doctor of Slavic Studies.

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/Media reports cited above.