The International Olympic Committee has decided Russian athletes can attend the Rio Olympic Games – participation to be individually decided by federations. This is the right decision, but a dangerous precedent has been established – entire teams can be targeted for political reasons.
The IOC probably realized it was playing with fire. The U.S. and some of allies have gone to great lengths to “isolate” Russia for Washington’s blunders in Ukraine and elsewhere. The strategy to “isolate” means no stone will be left unturned to damage Russia, including the areas of sports and other prestige events. By banning the Russian team the IOC probably drew the conclusion that itself would face isolation from hundreds of million of sports enthusiasts.
Also, the IOC probably reflected on what any Olympics would be like without Russia – one of the pillars of international sports. Without the Russians, all medals would have been deemed less worthy.
* International corporate sponsored would likely be hesitate promote futures Games if the banned had been ordered,
* If the IOC can ban an entire team, then there would be reasons for countries to establish a strictly non-political games as an alternative,
* If Russia had been banned, then Russia might have decided to withdraw from the Olympic community all together, and for good.
Washington’s neocons and their fellow travelers have been dealt a blow – there are surely feeling they lost an important PR coup. They will certainly regroup and continue their vengeful assault on Russia and international legal norms. The Rio Games have been saved, but the reputation of the IOC has been damaged. Doping must not be tolerated, but neither should the politicizing of sport.
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.