The likelihood that the Olympic Games in their present form will cease to exist in the near future is growing. The once solid Olympic house is now being set on fire from several corners at once, and there is reason to believe that the consequences will be irreversible.
Ghost Games in Tokyo
The story of the execution against one of the leading sports countries in the world – Russia – has become a lesson for many. When a power, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is deprived of its anthem and flag, striking in the rights of its athletes, representatives of lower-ranked states ask a reasonable question: how, then, can they do with us?
The coronavirus pandemic, which forced the 2020 Olympics to be postponed, continues to impact the sports world. It is already known that foreign fans will not be able to come to Tokyo. And the sports delegations themselves expect tough restrictions. In general, if as a result of the Games and take place, then the traditional sports festival will clearly not work. Not to mention the financial losses of the organizers, which there is no chance of compensating.
There remains an option in which the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo will miss a number of countries that are not sure about the safety of their athletes. Moreover, fears about the threat of COVID-19 cannot be called groundless. Representatives of the DPRK became the pioneers – as reported by Western media, in Pyongyang it was decided not to send its delegation to Japan.
The lack of spectators and athletes can be compensated for by political scandals – the United States and other Western countries are pressing the IOC to de facto repeal Article 50 of the Olympic Charter, which prohibits the expression of political and public positions during competitions and official ceremonies. United States officials are preparing to hold rallies in support of blacks, transgender people and other oppressed groups.
If the IOC succumbs to the pressure of the US representatives on this issue, then an avalanche-like effect awaits us – political manifestations during the competition will become commonplace.
“One of the issues on the agenda”
The long-suffering Tokyo Games had not yet taken place when clouds began to gather over the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
US State Department Spokesman Ned PriceWhen asked whether Washington is discussing the idea of boycotting the Games with its allies, he said, according to Interfax: “This is something that we certainly would like to discuss, and, of course, we understand that a coordinated approach will respond not only to our interests, but also the interests of our allies and partners. So this is one of the issues that is on the agenda both now and in the future. “
The statement was so harsh that an anonymous spokesman for the State Department, in an interview with Politico, hastened to take a step back: “Our position on the 2022 Olympic Games has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing the issue of some kind of joint boycott with allies and partners … As the State Department stated, we regularly discuss common problems with respect to the PRC with our allies and partners. We will continue this, knowing that a common approach will always meet our interests. “
“China will punish”
Official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China Zhao Lijian in response, he stated that his country condemned the politicization of sport, contrary to the spirit of the Olympic Charter and detrimental to the interests of athletes of all countries.
“As far as I know, the representative of the State Department has already explained the relevant comments: the statements of the American side did not contain ideas about boycotting the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing,” RIA Novosti quotes the words of the Chinese diplomat.
CNBC, in turn, quotes the opinion of experts from the Eurasian Group: “China will punish countries that will boycott the Games with political sanctions and retaliatory actions in trade; but in the event of a boycott of athletes, the severity will be much higher. If a company does not boycott the Games, it risks damaging its reputation from consumers in the West. But if she boycotts, she runs the risk of being outside the Chinese market. “
“We need to sit down and think with the whole team”
Beijing received the right to host the 2022 Olympics in 2015. The topic of a possible boycott of the Games in connection with the violation of human rights in the PRC, in particular, with the oppression of Muslims in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has been voiced over the past years, but has been especially active since the fall of 2020.
Then more than 160 human rights organizations sent a letter to the IOC with an appeal to postpone the 2022 Olympics from Beijing. Then the words of politicians sounded – as a rule, it was about parliamentarians of certain countries who demanded to punish China.
However, the official position of states, and most importantly, the NOCs of various countries, has not yet been discussed.
Voices in support of the boycott of the Games are also heard in Norway, and even leader of the national cross-country skiing team Johannes Klebo… In an interview with NRK, he said: “This discussion will evolve as the Olympics approach, and we will need to take a position. I think we need to sit down and think with the whole team, connect coaches and staff. Nothing can be done alone, we must act as a team. We will consider this in the coming months. “
The Great Crisis of the 1980s
The institution of boycotting the Olympics has existed almost from the very beginning of the existence of the modern Games, but it reached its peak in the 1980s.
At the suggestion of the President of the United States Jimmy Carter under the pretext of the “Soviet invasion of Afghanistan”, the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow were boycotted by athletes from 64 countries of the world. Representatives of 15 countries, including Great Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Australia, performed not under the national, but under the Olympic flag.
The United States did not succeed in disrupting the Games, but the retaliatory strike was not long in coming – the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles were boycotted by the USSR and most of the countries of the socialist camp.
The situation has become so difficult that the American media mogul Ted Turner offered an alternative to the Olympics – the Goodwill Games. They were first held in 1986.
IOC Head Juan Antonio SamaranchRealizing that the Olympic movement is on the verge of collapse, he managed to achieve the introduction of tough sanctions for missing the Games for political reasons – now a country taking such a step can be suspended from the Olympics for 8 years.
Dubina Samarancha became one of the factors that helped to avoid a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. In both cases, politicians advocated a demarche, but, ultimately, it did not reach him.
What Samaranch could do is beyond Bach’s power
The current head of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach He strongly opposes a return to the practice of the 1980s: “The 1980 Moscow boycott has achieved nothing. And this is recognized by all the main figures of that time in the FRG. A couple of months after the Games, in communication with me, they admitted that they made a mistake, being under pressure from the Chancellor Helmut Schmidtwho advocated a boycott. But even he admitted this mistake in 2008. Look at the facts: the Soviet army, whose invasion of Afghanistan was the reason for the boycott, remained there for more than nine years. Athletes from many countries became victims not only of that boycott in 1980, but also in response, in 1984, which was the revenge of the socialist camp. Two generations of athletes have been deprived of the Olympic dream – it turned out that they had been preparing for … nothing for years. ”
But if at the time of Samaranch the IOC could confidently pursue an independent policy, now the situation is much more complicated. Its functionaries are under constant pressure, they are accused of indulging in dictatorial regimes, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is trying to pull over the right to make key decisions concerning the future fate of world sports.
In recent years, attempts by Western politicians to establish control over the management of key world sports structures have become apparent, since this provides an excellent tool for putting pressure on countries that, figuratively speaking, are out of step.
The execution that Russia was subjected to disappointed many in the West – they wanted to completely remove our country from world sports and isolate it. Therefore, the unfortunate Thomas Bach and other IOC functionaries are constantly forced to fend off accusations of “pandering to the Kremlin.” It is possible that in the near future Bach will be replaced by a figure who will listen to the voices of politicians. And then political sanctions in sports will become commonplace.
Olympics will not happen at all?
The general deterioration of the international situation puts pressure on sports. And this greatly increases the likelihood that the political boycott of Beijing 2022 will become a reality.
As in the 1980s, athletes are held hostage to other people’s decisions. They can only believe that common sense will prevail.
Today’s China is not a country that will allow itself to be bullied with impunity. A boycott of the Olympics or, even worse, its breakdown for political reasons will inevitably entail retaliatory measures. And this will almost certainly mean that the Games in their present form will cease to exist. What will replace them? Perhaps, some alternative, countries that have played in politics will disappear from the management structures. Or maybe there will be no Olympiads at all – after all, the world existed for many centuries without them.
Although, of course, this is the saddest scenario of all.