The Court of Arbitration of Sport in Lausanne has as I predicted upheld the collective ban prohibiting Russian track and field athletes from participating in the Rio Olympic Games. As I said before, the timing of the WADA report and of the conduct of the IOC and of other Western sports organisations, together with the failure of the Western media to report the court case, all pointed clearly to the outcome of the case in Lausanne being a foregone conclusion, and moreover to those who are pressing the campaign for the banning of Russian athletes knowing it.
With the Court in Lausanne having made the decision that it has, I expect the IOC – as I also said before – to proceed to the complete ban on the Russian Olympic team attending the Rio Olympic Games. There was apparently some resistance from some Olympic Federations to the call for such a ban when it was first discussed at the IOC meeting on 19th July 2016. However I expect pressure to have been applied on them since then, and following the court decision in Lausanne today I predict they will now all fall into line.
The Russians have already (as I also predicted) rejected making a call for other countries to boycott the Rio Olympics in solidarity with them. They surely know that such a call would not be heeded. However (again as I predicted) there are already calls in Russia for Russia to set up its own parallel sports events for its own athletes.
Since no one is saying what the Russians need to do in order to be readmitted to the Olympic Games, the ban that has been imposed on their track and field athletes is open ended, with no indication of how or when it will ever be lifted. The same will surely be true of the ban which will shortly be imposed on the whole Russian Olympic team. It could be in place for a very long time. Russians should not assume that they will be allowed to compete in subsequent Olympic Games in any foreseeable future, and they should steel themselves for a renewed campaign in the next few weeks to strip Russia of the football World Cup, though FIFA for the moment is holding firm.
In light of all of this the setting up by Russia of alternative sports events for its own athletes is an imperative necessity. Obviously these events will not attract much in the way of foreign participation initially, and the Western media can be predicted to ignore them. Over time however, if the Russians make the rewards for participating big enough, more and more athletes especially from the non-Western world may decide to attend. It will probably not take as long as some might think for such events to become serious competitors to the Olympic Games, with an increasing number of records being broken at these events rather than at the Olympic Games themselves. A by-product is that over time these events might increase pressure on the IOC to readmit Russia to the Olympic Games, at which point it would be Russia that would be in a position to dictate the terms of its readmission.
In Soviet times Russia did have its own alternative to the Olympic Games in the form of the Spartakiad, which the Western media often used to sneer at as an “Olympic rehearsal”. During the Stalin era, when Russia (until the Helsinki Games in 1952) did not participate in the Olympic Games, it was for Russian athletes their main sports event. Even after the USSR joined the Olympic movement, the Spartakiad remained a massively popular sports event in Russia right up to the end of the Soviet era, attracting the participation of millions of people. The Russians should revive it, possibly under a new name.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.