Aggressive attacks on Bach: Things are getting really dirty between the IOC and Russia

Aggressive attacks on Bach
Things are getting really dirty between the IOC and Russia

Russian athletes are not allowed to take part in the athletes’ parade at the opening of the Olympic Games because of Moscow’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The Kremlin is now portraying itself as a victim and choosing aggressive words. The IOC reacts clearly.

Thomas Bach certainly seemed touched. The fact that the increasingly violent verbal attacks from Russia towards the IOC now also included unspeakable Nazi analogies to the German President did not leave even the otherwise very hard-nosed Bach indifferent. Four months before the Summer Games, the conflict between the Olympic bosses and the Kremlin is escalating into a crisis that, at least on Russia’s part, has been dirty.

“There were many voices from Russia that were very aggressive and sometimes very personal,” Bach said at the press conference after the two-day meeting of the IOC Executive Committee in Lausanne on Wednesday. The 70-year-old did not want to comment further – spokesman Mark Adams did so with sharp words. “There has been a reaction related to the president, his nationality and the Holocaust,” Adams said: “This is totally unacceptable and represents a new low.”

Russia had previously reacted “outraged” to Tuesday’s IOC decision to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from the opening parade in Paris. The Kremlin defended itself against alleged “intimidation” of athletes who want to take part in the planned “friendly games”. The entire relationship between the renegade Russians and the IOC has apparently reached a low point. The times in which Bach had to be criticized for allegedly being too close to Russia and its decision-makers are long gone. Instead, there is a risk of further escalation.

“Racism and neo-Nazism”

From Moscow it seems that the dispute is no longer being conducted objectively but rather “ad hominem”. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, accused the IOC of “racism and neo-Nazism.” Adams was unclear as to whether he was referring to that statement or perhaps something worse. Zakharova described the IOC decisions on Wednesday as “illegal, unfair and unacceptable” and condemned the “discrimination.” The decisions show how far the IOC has strayed from its own principles, said Zakharova. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attacked the IOC against the “Friendly Games” after an offensive statement from Lausanne.

The International Olympic Committee had decided to only allow Russians and Belarusians to attend the opening ceremony on the Seine as spectators. The athletes from both countries are only allowed in Paris as “neutral individual athletes”; teams are completely excluded. Russian efforts to create rival events to the Summer and Winter Olympics organized and marketed by the IOC are well known. According to the IOC, the first editions will be held in Moscow and Yekaterinburg in September, a few weeks after the end of the Paris Games, and in Sochi in 2026. Russia is also planning to host the “Future” and “BRICS Games” in Kazan in 2025.

The conflict between the IOC and Russia had come to a head in the past few days. President Bach said in an interview with the newspaper “Le Monde”: “The aggressiveness of the Russian government is growing day by day, against the committee, against the games, against me.” Bach actually wanted to talk about “the great anticipation” for the Summer Games on Wednesday. But Russia seems to be doing everything to cloud this.

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