— Published 23 February 2023

An absurd war and continued sanctions

The IOC has taken the lead. Two days before the anniversary date marking one year exactly since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, Friday February 24, the Olympic body published a long press release. Soberly titled “IOC Statement: War in Ukraine – One year later“, the text returns in preamble to the condemnation of this “absurd war” expressed by the IOC since the day of the invasion. It points out that this war is “a flagrant violation of the Olympic Truce, which was in force at the beginning of the conflict, and therefore of the Olympic Charter“. And specifies that these violations justified the unprecedented sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments, “the only ones responsible for this war“. They imply, among other things, “that no international sports may be organized in Russia and Belarus; no flags, anthems, or national symbols of any kind of these countries may be present and no government representatives may be accredited at international sporting events.” Above all, the statement of the body returns in detail to the marks of solidarity of the Olympic movement to Ukrainian athletes, including the tripling of the amount of its fund for Ukraine. “Some 3,000 athletes have already benefited from the assistance of the IOC Solidarity Fund through the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, recalls the text. This assistance takes the form not only of financial support, but also support in terms of logistics by ensuring that Ukrainian athletes can continue to participate in competitions with assistance for their travel, providing them with training facilities and accommodation, as well as equipment and uniforms in particular.” The IOC also says it has always sought to promote peace through sport. “Athletes from South Korea and North Korea, Israel and Palestine, Armenia and Azerbaijan and many others are the most recent examples of this peaceful competition,” the statement illustrates. Finally, the text released on Wednesday, February 22, emphasizes “the overwhelming majority of the Olympic movement, including athletes, National Olympic Committees and International Federations, which supports the unwavering solidarity with Ukraine, the sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus and the unifying mission of peace-building.” But at no point in its document does the IOC mention its thoughts on a possible return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions.