The Hypocritic Games. Russian and Belorussian sportsmen should be unconditionally banned from Olympics

The Hypocritic Games. Russian and Belorussian sportsmen should be unconditionally banned from Olympics

Photo: / Tirza van Dijk
4 June 2024

One of the most strongly promoted Russian narratives is “independence of sports and arts from politics”. Although the absurdity of this statement is obvious (if sport is not political then why do sportsmen wear their national flags?), some people believe (or pretend to believe) that sports are just a competition.

If one remembers that Russia attacked Georgia right after the 2008 summer Olympics, that it attacked Ukraine in 2014 and in 2022 right after the winter Olympics, that it used World Cup 2018 to whitewash its image; if one remembers how the developed world refused to participate in 1980 Olympics because of USSR invasion of Afghanistan; if one recalls how Hitler used 1936 Olympics to pretend that Germany was not racist when Holocaust already began – then any doubts about political nature and purpose of the Olympic games disappear. 

During the 2024 summer Olympics, Russia, who, with the help of Belarus, killed tens of thousands people in Ukraine plans to whitewash its image again. Unfortunately, the International Olympics Committee is ready to help them. According to Wikipedia, currently 54 athletes from Russia and Belarus plan to participate under the so-called “neutral flag” (unfortunately, Wikipedia does not provide the names of the four cyclists of those 54). 

Having looked at the list of these athletes, we found that of 24 Russian athletes whose names were available 6 serve in the Russian army, 12 support Russia’s war on Ukraine, and two represent the so-called “Republic of Transnistria” (a part of Moldova territory occupied by Russia; Transnistrian “government” even describes them as “the first Transnistrian sportsmen who made it to the Olympics”). Of 28 Belorussian sportsmen 3 serve in Belarussian army, 2 in the militia (police), and one is sanctioned by the EU, Canada, Switzerland, UK, and Ukraine for supporting the war. 

The International Olympic Committee announced that if they find some evidence of athletes’ relation to the army or their support of the war, they would disqualify them. It did not take us too long to find tons of evidence (in case Russia or Belarus remove the publications, we collected the screenshots in this folder). 

However, there is a much better solution that would spare IOC officials from the boring job of checking the background of Russian and Belarussian athletes. Russian and Belorussian sportsmen should be banned from the Olympics altogether. Because all of them support the dictatorial regimes of their countries — if they did not support the regimes, they would not be able to have a career there. They support the regimes both with their taxes and their reputation. No one will be fooled by “neutral” flags or uniforms. Everyone will know that these sportsmen represent Russia or Belarus — countries that kill Ukrainians every day. Countries that killed more than 400 Ukrainian sportsmen — who will never be able to participate in the Olympics. How will other sportsmen feel when they have to shake hands with people who support the bloody dictatorships?

Thus, the IOC has to stop hypocrisy and remember its principles of honesty and “fair play”. This implies banning all the Russian and Belorussian sportsmen. Alternatively, they can wear their army uniforms instead of some “neutral” costumes.



The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations