This past Monday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned athletes from Russia and Belarus from competing due to the ongoing invasion in Ukraine. This recommendation was also endorsed by backers of Utah’s bid for the next Winter Olympic Games. The president and CEO of the Salt Lake City Utah Committee for the Games, Fraser Bullock, stated that “in the spirit of world peace, we stand behind decisions by the International Olympic Committee and international sports federations.”
Other worldwide sports competitions have also banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from representing their country. For example, the International Biathlon Union’s Youth and Junior World Championships in Utah decided that the Russian athletes would finish the competition as “neutral” athletes. The team is not allowed to display any symbols of their country, including the flag and national anthem.
The Olympic athletes from Russia that competed in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing also had to compete as “neutral” athletes with no display of their flag or anthem; this was part of the penalty for doping in past Games. However, Russia was again caught in a doping scandal in the 2022 Winter Games. This time a 15-year-old star figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for a banned drug. The drug in her system was trimetazidine which is said to help endurance, but there is no consensus about if the drug effectively enhances performance. The IOC allowed Kamila to continue to perform, but she was not allowed to win any medals.
Putin was very involved in planning the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and was given an Olympic Order, the highest honor. However, the IOC has also taken back the Olympic Order from Vladimir Putin and two other Russian officials due to the invasion.
Russia has also breached the Olympic Truce set by the United Nations General Assembly, and the IOC has declared that all sporting events planned for Russia and Belarus be moved or canceled. The truce is set to uphold the Olympics’ “mission to contribute to peace through sport and to unite the world in the peaceful competition beyond all political disputes.” The IOC had thought carefully about what necessary actions to take and justified that their actions were required “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all participants.” The IOC stands in full solidarity with the Ukrainian Olympic Community and has established a solidarity fund to assist Ukrainian athletes and their families.
Concerning our last blog post about Adidas, Russia was suspended from all international soccer competitions, and Poland has already refused to compete against the country in their next qualifying match. These were hard decisions for both the IOC and FIFA committees, as countries are not usually banned over political matters. However, recent events have sent countries into an uproar choosing to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. This will have a positive influence on these brands and allow countries to take a stance against Russia and Belarus.
Ukraine is one of the many countries interested in hosting the future Winter Olympic Games. Currently, Ukraine does not have any athletes competing in Utah and does not plan to participate in any future events this season. In support of the country, their nation’s blue and gold flag is flying at the finish line and will be flying at future events to show solidarity.