— Published 27 June 2023

On the Russian question, the United States will listen to the IOC

The question no longer even needs to be asked, it has become obvious: when it comes to Russia, the USA is in bed with the IOC. Both sides speak the same language and agree on the same course of action. Further proof of this was provided on Monday June 26 at an online press briefing organized by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

The star guest was USOPC President Gene Sykes (photo above). Arrived at the helm of the body at the end of last year, the former CEO of the Los Angeles bid committee for the 2024/2028 Summer Games spoke openly about the possible participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Paris 2024 Games. While reiterating his unwavering support for the Ukraine, he assured that any idea from the IOC to allow their presence next year on the Olympic stage would be “listened to“.

The formula is cautious. Gene Sykes was careful not to assert that the United States would blindly follow the IOC in its desire to open the door to Russian and Belarusian athletes, subject to conditions of strict neutrality. But the statement deceives no one. The USOPC will side with the IOC.

We think there are a lot of challenges in making sure we respect Olympic values and support athletes at the same time, he explained. We have been quite measured and willing to give the IOC the opportunity to explore the possibility, to see how Russian or Belarusian athletes who are neutral, truly neutral, could participate in international competitions. That’s the approach we’ve taken so far, making sure we observe the situation carefully and engage constructively with the IOC to share our views.”

For the IOC, the USOPC’s position sounds like good news. The Olympic body knows it can count on the support of the Olympic Committee, if not the most powerful in the world, at least the most influential. This support could be sorely needed when the time comes to settle the issue of Russian and Belarusian participation in the Paris 2024 Games.

Payback? An exchange of favors? When asked by the media about Salt Lake City’s bid for the Winter Games on Monday June 26, Gene Sykes made no secret of his optimism. He openly expressed his “confidence” in the Utah capital’s chances of bringing the event back to American soil within the next decade.

Cautious once again, the USOPC president did not specify whether he was referring to the 2030 or 2034 edition. But he did suggest that Salt Lake City could change its status from ongoing dialogue to permanent dialogue, starting with the IOC session scheduled for October.

The Salt Lake City team has made significant progress, and the guidance we’re receiving from the IOC and the Future Games Commission is very encouraging,” confided Gene Sykes. What we’re trying to share with you, the media, is our enthusiasm and confidence that Salt Lake City is on the right track.” The road to success, from which there should be no further deviation until the final announcement.