— Published 24 March 2023

Oleg Matytsin takes the lead

Oleg Matytsin, the Russian Minister of Sport (pictured above), did not wait for the next meeting of the IOC Executive Board, scheduled for March 28-30, to state his position on the conditions that could be imposed on his country’s athletes for their eventual return to international competitions. He took the lead. “The Olympics are the main competition for many athletes, and they will always be,” he said Thursday, March 23, in a statement from the sports ministry. I hope that the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee will decide at its upcoming meeting to recommend the international federations allowing Russian athletes’ participation in all of its authorized competitions, and will certainly raise the issue of our athletes qualification and participation in the upcoming Olympics.” In front of journalists, Oleg Matytsin was firmer on the position of Russia in the case of reinstatement of athletes. He repeated once again, Thursday, his refusal to see them march to the Paris 2024 Games under neutral flag and colors. “Our flag will always be that of Russia, he decided, quoted by the agency TASS. We have no other flag. Let us hope that we will be heard. We will do everything in our power for that. The pressure that some governments are currently putting on the IOC threatens the principles of sport development. Our common task is to protect these principles, to protect the Olympic movement from political influence.”