tirsdag 15. mars 2022

Russia invasion upends Olympic ‘neutrality’ — if it existed

The International Olympic Committee has always been political, from the sheikhs and royals in its membership to a seat at the United Nations to pushing for peace talks between the Koreas. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago exposed its irreconcilable claims of “political neutrality.”

The IOC’s politics were evident at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics. During the Cold War, the Games were a stage for conflict (Mexico City), violence (Munich) and boycotts (Moscow). To this day, the IOC has partnered with authoritarian states like China and Russia, beginning with the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, through the doping-scarred Sochi Games to the just-closed Beijing Winter Olympics.

Yawning gaps exist between what the IOC has long insisted it is — “the very heart of world sport” — and a view that hews closer to reality; a nonprofit sports business, based in Switzerland, that generates about 90% of its income from selling broadcast rights and sponsorships.