The sports world has shunned Russian President Vladimir Putin. So what? – News 24

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The brutal reality of war comes to the fore as Russia continues to invade Ukraine, with more than two million Ukrainians fleeing the country and hundreds killed, according to the UN.

Russia is already paying the price for its aggression – countries around the world are imposing sanctions, and the Russian ruble has slumped further against the dollar and hit record lows.

Many international sports organizations and governing bodies also reacted to the invasion, which targeted Russia and its athletes, with sanctions of varying severity, and Russian President Vladimir Putin was stripped of various honorary sports titles.

According to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Russian and Belarusian athletes have been specifically banned from participating in the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing after several athletes and teams from other countries threatened not to attend the Games. ). ) proposed banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in international competitions.

“The situation is, of course, dire. “It’s an embarrassment for the International Paralympic Committee,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters after the decision.

The IOC also announced that it had removed Putin from the Olympic Order, the highest honor of the Olympic movement.

“The IOC has appeared to have a close relationship with Russia,” Michael Payne, a former CIO marketing director, told CNN.

“The IOC is currently issuing a series of sanctions against Russia, which I think is probably the heaviest the IOC has ever issued…probably since the early 1960s when the IOC banned South Africa because of its apartheid regime.” said.

Meanwhile, FIFA, the governing body of world football, and UEFA, the European football body, suspended all Russian international and club teams from competitions “until further notice”.

Vladimir Putin hits the ball during an event on Red Square in Moscow on June 28, 2018.

“Vladimir Putin is both passionate about sports and uses it to reflect Russia’s importance on the world stage and to reassert the pride of the Russian people for their achievements on the world stage. »

Payne added that the most immediate impact of the sanctions may be to challenge the Kremlin’s narrative of the conflict, and to wonder what happened to the events that ordinary Russians had to stage.

UEFA announced last month that this year’s Champions League final will no longer be held at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, sponsored by Russian state-owned company Gazprom, and will now be moved to the Stade de France in Paris to be played on the original date in May. 28.

“There can be no misunderstanding: no amount of control of the Russian media can explain what’s going on in the sports world, their abrupt ban,” Payne said.

Russia treats the country’s invasion of Ukraine very differently from CNN and other Western media. A new law prohibits media operating in Russia from using the words “war”, “attack” or “occupation” to describe Putin’s decision to unleash his forces against Ukraine. Instead they should use the Kremlin’s Orwellian phrase: “special military operation.”

Russians’ access to social media such as Facebook and Twitter was also severely restricted.

“The sanctions might make ordinary Russians wonder why they can’t see the performance of Russian athletes? And frankly, these Russian people were like, ‘What’s going on? ‘ said Payne.

“Will Putin care about returning the Olympic gold or what the rest of the world thinks of him? Probably not.

“All the local Russians were like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’ Does she care? Absolutely. »

Lukas Aubin, associate researcher at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) and expert on Russia and sports geopolitics, told CNN Sport that he cares about Putin’s image so that observers nationwide are aware of his prowess in the sport. and at the international level.

When Putin came to power in 2000, one of his first decisions was to invite his former judo coach. [to the Kremlin],” said.

The Russian Prime Minister was also photographed swimming on the ice, fishing and riding a shirtless horse.

Putin attends a Night Hockey League teams' gala game at the Bolshoi Ice Arena in Sochi, Russia, on May 10, 2017.

“Today, President Putin uses sport as part of his strength. And not just as part of his personality, but also because he created a great sports system. It uses oligarchs, politicians, ex-athletes to create a machine.

“It’s a big system, people [are] He was pushed by Putin in the directions needed to create a good image of Russia in the sports world.”

For the most part, it works, Aubin said.

“It worked because we see the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Four years later we’re participating in the World Cup. It’s really hard to say how many international sporting events there are in Russia. [has] hosted for the last 10 years – that’s a lot. In the beginning, it was a huge piece of soft power,” added Aubin.

Vera Tolz, a professor of Russian studies at the University of Manchester, told CNN Sport that Putin has used Russian nationalism “instrumentally and very systematically” since coming to power as a way to legitimize his regime.

“Nationalism—and the promotion of certain versions of history, organization, the establishment of new national holidays, and of course a kind of national unification with sport—was certainly key to the strategy of legitimation,” he added, adding that such tactics were used by the Soviet extends to the period.

“The fact that the Kremlin in Russia has gone this far by using doping to win more medals shows that competing and winning, winning is key to Putin’s popular mobilization strategy,” Tolz said. .

In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) unanimously decided to ban Russia from major international sporting events, including the Olympics and World Cup, for four years for non-compliance with doping rules.

The ban was later halved by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in 2020.

WADA’s sentencing relates to inconsistencies in data recovered by WADA in January 2019 from the Moscow lab at the center of the 2016 McLaren report that uncovered an extensive and sophisticated state-sponsored sports doping ring.

“Every time you allow Russia to participate in an international sporting event, you are basically agreeing to swim with man-eating sharks. They’ll cheat on your athletes, they won’t feel bad about it, they’ll lie about it, if they get caught, they’ll blame you for reporting it,” CNN told CNN.

Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Putin expressed his disappointment at “the politicization of sports” and that “the rights and interests of our athletes should be protected from arbitrariness”.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was initially found to be non-compliant after the McLaren report was published in 2016.

Putin will attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 4.

Commissioned by WADA, the report revealed that the Russian state is collaborating with athletes and sports officials to run a doping program that is unprecedented in scope and ambition.

“Putin uses a lot of his control over the sport to play the world and win as much as possible, and also curates the content of the Russian public so that he can achieve maximum popularity, which translates into maximum power to do what he wants internationally. – essentially it pits Russia against the rest of the world, or at least the rest of the western world,” Walden added.

Fast forward to 2022 and another doping scandal surrounding Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has eclipsed the Beijing Winter Olympics.

A top-rated Games star in a figure skating team event, 15-year-old Valieva was allowed to compete despite testing positive for trimetazidine, the banned heart drug commonly used to treat people with angina pectoris. The failed test took place before the Winter Olympics, but only appeared during the Games, and the doping test controversy remains unclear whether the medal will be revoked.

“Not only is Russia shortsighted and focused on winning at all costs, it’s not illegal in terms of costs, is it? I mean, murder, bribery, drug dealing, any crime that would give them an advantage. They believe not only in what they’re going to do, but that other people are weak at following the rules,” said Walden.

“So they marry crime prevention and associate it with sports. And that’s how they always win. And that’s how the Russian government has used it to bolster its own popularity so it has more room to indulge in unrest abroad.”

Opposing the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Olympic great Edwin Moses went so far as to request that Russia be banned from the 2024 Olympics.

“The boycott of 1980 was political. “This is so bad,” Moses, president of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, said in a Laureus press release last week.

“It has little to do with politics, humanity, war, war, killed children and innocent people, rockets, missiles, tanks…

“I was in favor of banning the Russians because of what happened in Sochi in 2014, because they really disrupted the integrity of the Olympics through doping. I was on the board of the World Anti-Doping Agency and found the sanctions too light.

“What they are doing right now in Ukraine to the whole world, I think is the same thing they are doing for sport. Russia should be banned in Paris [2024 Olympic Games]”

Moïse says she met Putin a few years ago.

“Once I sat next to you [a] table. To my left were two seats and the translator was in between. And I talked to him all night. I know how you talk about sports, like it’s the holy grail and how important sports are and how good it is when the best in the whole country can compete together no matter what your philosophy is and whoever wins. I realize now that this is just propaganda.