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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has been steadfast in his support of Russia and Belarus competing in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. To his own reputational peril, he has supported Russia despite its ongoing systematic doping issues and its illegal war in Ukraine. Bach has maintained that it is unfair to the affected athletes and that they should be able to compete. At least under a neutral flag and without the Russian national anthem. The real reason is due to President Vladimir Putin threatening to arrange a competing Olympics-type event shortly after Paris.
Putin has demanded that Russia host countries from BRIC nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in a new edition of the Goodwill Games.
Bach, speaking at an Extraordinary IOC committee session said, “The Russian Government accuses us of acting against our political neutrality, while at the same time, this very same Government is shamelessly trying to put together fully politicised sport competitions.”
“If these divisive political forces would succeed with their efforts to decide which athlete can compete in which competition, then we will end up with sport competitions only among athletes from like-minded political blocs.
“The Games of Political Bloc A, the Games of Political Bloc B.”
The desperate plea from Bach exposes his real concern about having Russia and Belarus in the Olympics. Competition.
The Goodwill Games
The Goodwill Games were created by American businessman Ted Turner. Turner launched the Games in reaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games during the 1980s. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The invasion caused the United States and other Western nations to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. In a retaliatory turn, Russia led an Eastern Bloc boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Games.
The Goodwill Games occurred five times, between 1986 and 2001, while the Winter edition occurred only once, in 2000. They were cancelled by Time Warner. The company bought the games in 1996, but because of low television ratings after the 2001 Games in Brisbane.
Russia’s version with just a handful of countries will suffer the same fate. The Goodwill Games would be a farce. Put on by a dictatorship that has been proven to systematically dope its athletes. No one will watch a second-level event hastily arranged out of anger.