February 07, 2023

What Is Fair in Love and War?


What Is Fair in Love and War?
Olympic rings in front of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris's city hall.  Wikimedia Commons, DiscoA340.

The possibility of Russian and Belarusian participation in the 2024 Olympic Games has been under serious consideration by both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and spectators in response to the two countries' (mostly Russia's) aggression in Ukraine.

Thomas Bach, the current president of the IOC, said that athletes should not be punished for holding Russian passports. Bach's position provoked a resentful response from multiple EU countries as well as Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky adamantly said that neutrality is not possible if you are opening the door for oppressors. Vadym Guttzeit, Ukraine's sports minister, said, "If we are not heard, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics."

In response, the IOC said that "a boycott is a violation of the Olympic charter, which obliges all NOCs [national Olympic committees] to 'participate in the Games of the Olympiad by sending athletes.' As history has shown, previous boycotts did not achieve their political ends and served only to punish the athletes of the boycotting NOCs."

Since January 25, the IOC Executive Committee has been deliberating various alternatives for participation by Russian and Belarusian athletes, all of which would require: not representing their country (or any organization relative to their country) in any way, abiding by all anti-doping rules, and only accepting athletes who have not opposed the IOC's mission to promote peace.

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