The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that National Olympic Committees avoid participating in the 2024 World Friendship Games in Moscow.

Organisers claim, “The goal of the Friendship Games was never to conflict with the IOC or create competition against the Olympic movement. The Friendship Games were conceived as a harmonious addition to the existing international calendar, and this is particularly important for Russian athletes.”

Truth is a victim here

This appears to be a false statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to have two Games happen before and after the 2024 Paris Olympic Games: The BRIC Games and the new Friendship Games. The sole purpose is to give his Russian athletes the opportunity to compete internationally. Currently, Russia is not permitted to compete during the Paris Olympics and many single sport championships due to the war in Ukraine. Additionally, Russia has been suspended for several years due to systematic doping.

James MacLeod, Director of the Department of Relations with National Olympic Committees at the IOC, noted that this would violate recommendations regarding sanctions against Russian sports. “Given the increasing politicization of world sport, we urge all NOCs to exercise caution with respect to this initiative.”

“Any NOC participation in the World Friendship Games would not only go against the IOC Executive Board’s recommendation of February 25, 2022, regarding international sports events held in Russia but would also run counter to the Olympic Movement’s collective aim of preserving the independence and autonomy of sport,” stated MacLeod to the publication Inside the Games.

Putin and company suffer from FOMO or the “Fear of missing out.”

World Friendship Games

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin outlined to Russian President Vladimir Putin the plans to launch the Friendship Games.

Kicked out of the proverbial political sandbox, Matytsin and Putin look to build their own play area including a series of so-called international competitions and the return of Friendship Games. The Friendship Games of course are planned to take place shortly after the 2024 Paris Olympics — here we go again.

On the surface, the proposition appears to be a childhood game to see who wants to play along. This can only end badly.

“We propose to intensify the practice of holding competitions in an open format with the invitation of partner countries,” Matytsin wrote on the Kremlin’s website.

Perhaps, like Chaos Theory, the outcome will be the opposite of the intention. In fact, the plan reads like a metaphor borrowed from the computer sandbox: a controlled environment that lets uncontrolled applications run, to mitigate system failures.

“We consider it necessary to use the resources of both Russian and international public and state organisations to the maximum for the successful holding of the Games, which should be held on a regular basis in the future.”

With or without systematic doping?

We have been here before

Similarly, multi-event games known as the Friendship Games were organised by the former Soviet Union. Eight Russian allies took part back in 1984. At the time, it was an alternative to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games which experienced the infamous Russian-led boycott.

Not only do politics, sandbox or otherwise, influence sport in conflict with the idealism of the founder of the modern Olympic Games Pierre de Coubertain, it has also long dropped his now seemingly archaic manifest, “The important thing in these Olympiads is less to win than to take part in them.”

Of course, in addition to politicization, money — lots and lots of money — and winning at all costs are now what the Games are about.

Besides the poor optics of the illegal incursion on Ukraine, Russia has always tried to win at all costs including the use of a systematic doping program.

The question here is, why don’t they get it? What is so difficult to understand that government-organised doping and hastily-organised Games do not work? The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany no longer exist as purely communist states. Communism did not work. Nor did the Friendship Games endure.

Interestingly, the medal table for those 1984 Games shows the count of the top-nine nations and seven were former communist or communist-like states: Soviet Union, East Germany, Bulgaria, Cuba, Hungary, Poland, North Korea, Czechoslovakia, and China, in that order.

Only time will tell, however, Russia seems doomed to repeat what the Soviet Union failed to accomplish.

The BRIC Games

A proposal apparently was unveiled at the BRICS Summit in August in Johannesburg, South Africa. BRICS nations include Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

“Our joint mission is to do everything possible so that athletes and major international competitions are not the objects of political games,” Matytsin said.

Okay.

Certainly bombing a smaller neighbouring nation into submission is not about political games. Rather it’s war games and the West should get that straight. As should some of the East, most of the rest of the South, and all of the North. And the Olympic Games were supposedly no place for war, politics, grotesque volumes of money and winning at all costs, but that horse left the barn at a mane-flowing gallop decades ago.

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