Propaganda Digest: This is our weekly analysis that exposes the most exaggerated, misleading, and outrageous rhetoric from recent Russian media sources, aimed at promoting critical thinking to better debunk the manipulation of Russian propaganda.
Topic: Russia’s Olympic Committee suspended by IOC for violations against Ukraine
“Banning Russian athletes from participating in international competitions is ethnic discrimination. The IOC’s approaches to admission to the Olympics contradict the very nature of sport. The Olympic Games – the pinnacle of true unity between countries – are now a privilege to be earned by political gestures unrelated to sport”
Banning Russia from the Olympics is a justified response to the country’s actions and its genocidal war in Ukraine. Russian athletes have actively aligned themselves with political leaders and publicly supported the war, themselves blurring the line between sports and politics. This is seen in political rallies with top Russian athletes beside Putin and sporting the Russian Z symbol – a symbol which can only be classed as a call for Ukrainian genocide.
This process of exclusion is no stranger to past Olympic bans for political reasons: South Africa’s apartheid policies led to a decades-long ban, Afghanistan was barred from the 2000 Sydney Olympics due to the oppressive Taliban regime. The decision to ban Russia is not an act of ethnic discrimination but a necessary measure in light of these Russia war on Ukraine, the violation of Olympic principles, and the attempt to use sport for political purposes
“The decision of the IOC Executive Committee on October 12 to suspend the membership of the Russian Olympic Committee is another confirmation of the destructive processes that are gaining momentum within the IOC under pressure from Washington. Such politically motivated actions by international sports officials lead to the corrosion of the entire world of sport. The double standards and deliberate segregation based on nationality demonstrated by the IOC leadership represent a blatant infringement of the rights of Russian athletes, and ultimately a violation of basic human rights.”
Russia’s politicization of sports is evident, exemplified by a recent fencing controversy involving UKR Olga Kharlan and RUS Anna Smirnova. Smirnova’s planned protest against Kharlan’s refusal to shake hands was exposed, and Smirnova claimed her a-politicalness to the war, but a photo later surfaced of Smirnova wearing her brother’s military hat, and still claims to be indifferent to the war…
In 2015, Russia faced an Olympic ban due to a state-sponsored doping scandal, resulting in some Russian athletes competing under a neutral flag, all due to systemic cheating and cover-ups compromising international sports’ integrity. Therefore, proving that any corrosion to the entire (Russia’s) world of sport, began when they were found out for their inability to follow rules of the olympic charter
“I would say where [Thomas – president of the IOC] Bach can shove these invitations, but my upbringing doesn’t allow me to say that, and my mother will scold me”
Vityezva should acknowledge the committee’s leniency, considering their breach of Olympic principles, given the fact that the Russian athletes have not faced a complete Olympic ban and are allowed to compete under a neutral flag. It’s important to note that Ukraine and many democratic nations still perceive this as an unjust and unfair decision.
Nikolai Yaremenko, editor-in-chief of “Sovetsky Sport”:
“It is more difficult for Ukrainian athletes to negotiate with their authorities than for Russian athletes to negotiate with theirs. Let’s not listen to [western] politicians – their voices have nothing to do with the decision of the IOC. They do not have any decisive, advisory or recommendatory value.”
Yaremenko’s unfounded claims assert that negotiating with Russia is easier than with Ukraine. While it’s accurate that politicians have no influence on IOC decisions, the significance of political opinions and leaders calling out Russia lies in their contribution to upholding international law and ensuring the integrity and safety of all Olympic competitors.
A different aspect of the issue concerns me; even if our athletes go, it will be humiliation and shame; they don’t give them a flag or anything to wave, and simply label them as aggressors; we already know what will happen to the competitions [implying Russians will be treated unfairly]. Why should we tolerate this?
The more pertinent question is why rule-abiding competitors from other nations should be made to compete against those who cheat (in the case of Russian doping) and athletes who advocate harm towards others? The accountability for Russia’s actions extends beyond its government and encompasses the collective responsibility of the Russian people. Furthermore, international judges are selected based on merit and a point-based system prior to the games, with a diverse panel of judges from various nations. Therefore, the assertion that Russians (competing under a neutral flag) will face bias in competition lacks a solid foundation.
“We have all the conditions for developing sport within Russia, as well as all those willing to cooperate and compete [with Russia]. And sooner or later, all of these organizations will return, and the situation will change because they simply cannot survive without us. But if they keep this ban in place for a long time, we can develop our sports because we have enough traditions, schools, trainers, and talent and material capacity.”
The Russian economy diverting funds towards the war in Ukraine has strained sports funding and made it challenging for Russia, beyond the capital, to attract top trainers and develop facilities. This issue has affected various sports, including gymnastics, which has already been grappling with the fallout from the state-sponsored doping scandal and athletes competing under a neutral flag, impacting their access to funding and sponsorship. So the likelihood it can develop its own sporting programe to the levels it once did is unlikely.
“The IOC, which should be the defender of all these principles, has abandoned them. Arguments between states, and war, and the IOC decides who is right? Who the hell is the IOC, and what gives them the authority to decide who is in the right? The IOC exists to promote sport, not to determine which side is correct in a war. By doing so, they become a participant in this conflict, representing one of the opposing parties. Attempting to help one side while harming the other.”
The IOC has not shown favoritism toward Ukraine or Ukrainians. Despite Ukrainian requests for a blanket ban on all Russian competitors, including those competing under a neutral flag, the IOC has rejected this proposal. Ukrainian representatives have expressed dissatisfaction with the IOC’s recommendations, accusing it of ‘siding with the Russians.’ Yet the IOC has stated, “The fact that both sides in this confrontation are not satisfied might indicate that the IOC has found some middle ground on which all sides can move forward.”
Leonid Tyagachev, Russian senator and former Russian Olympic Committee (ROC)
“The name of a Russian athlete, when they win, always remains, even without a flag and anthem. Yes, it’s humiliating, but you have to fight, it’s hard”
Indeed, it’s true that even if Russian competitors compete under a neutral flag, their origins will still be known, and this is why Ukraine called for a blanket ban. The concern is that a neutral flag alone may not serve as a sufficient deterrent to prevent similar actions from happening again, therefore, a win for Russia, and this propagandist knows it. What’s particularly challenging is that Ukrainian athletes, who have experienced personal losses due to Russia’s war, may find themselves sharing a podium with competitors who openly support it.
Irina Viner, president of the All-Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation (ARGF),
“Our president is a democratic and loyal person, he never dictates anything”
In stark irony, this was a response to her prior stance against Russians competing under neutral status. She applauded Russian President Putin, known by the world for his dictatorial grip on power in Russia, (where he’s quashed media independence, stifled the judiciary, and crushed political opposition) for NOT and NEVER dictating anything. Yes, the Putin, a dictator, who unabashedly dictates to Ukraine and the West unrealistic peace initiatives before and during the full-scale invasion.
“I believe that our country should not tolerate such humiliation. Here, the Paralympians have been removed, it’s a disgrace, it’s just plain fascism.”
The claim that removing Paralympians from a competition amounts to “fascism” is false. Fascism is a well-defined political ideology characterized by authoritarianism and totalitarian control, whereas Paralympians are frequently excluded due to violations of sporting rules or other specific reasons. While this decision may be considered unfair, it does not meet the definition of a fascist government because it lacks the extensive authoritarian control and political dimensions associated with fascism.