Not only on the economic and military levels, but also on the sporting level, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to create a new power bloc.
The IOC’s eyes were focused on Johannesburg at the end of August. The annual summit of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) was held there. Will there be talk about the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and the participation of Russian athletes? The IOC has yet to make a final decision on whether they will be accepted as “neutral athletes”, under strict conditions. It is the wish of President Thomas Bach, who wants to avoid any political interference, but that is not to the liking of Ukraine and many Western countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin also described the conditions as unacceptable.
Pending this decision, Putin is trying to protect Russia’s independence in sports through alliances. This was clear, among other things, from the BRICS summit treaty. He does not mention the 2024 Games, but he does mention the establishment of a joint working group that would work to strengthen the framework for sports in the BRICS countries. “We are committed to supporting the BRICS countries to participate in international sports competitions in their countries. We emphasize that all BRICS countries have a rich sporting tradition and we agree to further strengthen this tradition.
Also worth noting is the upcoming BRICS Games in South Africa in October. This was not the case until the summit. No specific date has been set yet. This is the case for the 2024 edition of the BRICS Games, which will be held from June 12 to 23 in Kazan, Russia. Not coincidentally, a month before the start of the Paris Games and under Russia’s presidency of the BRICS, which will enter into force at the beginning of 2024.
Since then, six new members will join: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A list of potential new members will also be drawn up by the next summit in 2024, which will also be held in Kazan. Sixteen countries, mostly from Central and South America, Africa and Asia, have shown interest.
The BRICS Games, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Games, the World Friendship Games: the International Olympic Committee watches with fear.
The developments could have a major impact on the world of sports. In addition to the BRICS Games, Russia is also interested in hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Games in 2024. That organization consists of the Central Asian countries, India, Pakistan, Russia and China.
On Putin’s initiative, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsyn also announced the holding of the World Friendship Games last May. These events are scheduled to be held in Moscow and Yekaterinburg in September 2024. Matytsyn emphasized that the current geopolitical situation demonstrates the importance and necessity of sporting events within organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS. Events that are “not subject to sanctions or restrictions by international sports federations.”
Block A vs Block B
This is not a rosy prospect for the International Olympic Committee. Not only in relation to the 2024 Paris Olympics, but even more so in relation to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, which are considered more politically sensitive. “In such a politicized sport, it is no longer possible to hold a global Olympic Games,” Bach said. A potential boycott, as occurred in 1980 and 1984, would not only jeopardize the sporting value of the Games but also threaten the IOC’s finances. Will American television channels continue to pay billions of dollars for television rights if a large number of countries do not participate? There seems little chance this outcome will ever be achieved, but Putin will not hesitate to sow division in the world of sports.
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