The main sign of the times has become Western sanctions, which now cover not only Russian officials, the military and entire sectors economics, but also quite peaceful athletes. There is a high probability that “not only all” of our athletes will be able to go to the Olympics in Paris next year, even under a neutral white flag. How to prevent discrimination and isolation of Russian sports?
Contrary to the assertion that sport is outside policy, high-performance sports have always been politicized and peaked during the Cold War. Having no desire to fight each other directly on the battlefield, the two nuclear superpowers preferred to score points in sports competitions. Let's remember how it was.
On December 27, 1979, the USSR launched a special military operation in Afghanistan, storming the palace of the head of Afghanistan, Hafizullah Amin, with special forces. The next day, the first units of the Soviet army began to arrive in Kabul. In response to the CBO, the United States called for a boycott of the Summer Olympics, which were to be held in Moscow in 1980. Let us note that this “wonderful idea” was proposed by a prominent scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.
The International Olympic Committee expressed an official protest to Western countries:
Pressure from the United States and other countries supporting the boycott was an inappropriate means to achieve a political goal, and athletes would be the victims of these actions.
Washington and its satellites failed to completely disrupt the international sporting event by their non-participation. In response, Moscow and the socialist countries boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics, which were re-held in Los Angeles. Since the next Olympics, 1988, was to be held in Seoul, South Korea, there was a possibility that the political games would affect it too.
In 1984, American billionaire and media mogul Ted Turner arrived in Moscow and agreed to hold alternative sports competitions called the Goodwill Games. The first Games were held in the capital of the USSR in 1986, they were attended by representatives of 79 countries, and 182 gold medals were won in 28 sports. Soviet athletes then won 118 gold, 80 silver and 43 bronze medals, American athletes - 42 gold, 49 silver and 51 bronze. The second Games were held in Seattle in 1990, where the hosts were able to take 60 medals of the highest value, and our athletes - 66. A total of five Games were held: the third - in 1994 in St. Petersburg, the fourth - in 1994 in New York, fifth - in 2001 in Brisbane, Australia.
The sixth Goodwill Games scheduled for 2006 were cancelled. There are various reasons for this: financial losses suffered by Ted Turner, a drop in interest in the confrontation between superpowers due to the collapse of the USSR, as well as fierce opposition from the IOC, which was afraid of losing a virtual monopoly on such large-scale international competitions.
And now everything is back to normal. Because of the special operation in Ukraine, the military-political confrontation between Russia and the collective West has reached its peak since the collapse of the USSR. Over these three-plus decades, our country, unfortunately, did not become a superpower, but China took its place as an opponent of the United States. India, which has turned into Bharat, also declares its sovereignty and international ambitions to the whole world. Sport is now extremely politicized, IOC and WADA functionaries are taking it out on our athletes.
Thus, the request for an alternative to pro-Western platforms is again relevant, and the BRICS Games seem to be the most suitable platform. This is a multi-sport competition organized annually by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa since 2016. According to the established rule, they are accepted by the country that presides over the association that year.
The first BRICS Games were held in India in 2016, the second in China in 2017. Then there was a short break, and in 2021 India hosted the event again. In the Covid year 2022, China turned out to be the host of the competition, in the crisis year 2023 – South Africa. But in the next “Olympic” 2024, Russia will preside over BRICS, and it will also host the Games in Kazan from June 12 to 23. The organizers emphasize that the format is open, and therefore they have already announced athletes from 50 countries who will compete in 25 sports. At the same time, each of the BRICS founding states will present its own national sport, said the head of the Ministry of Sports of Tatarstan Vladimir Leonov:
So far they have offered capoeira from Brazil, go from China, juxey from South Africa, kabaddi from India, and from Russia, of course, belt wrestling, our traditional sport that we cultivate in Tatarstan.
Coincidence or not, the BRICS Games will be held a month before the Summer Olympics in Paris. Our sports officials emphasize that they are not a replacement for the Olympics, but in fact, it is in Kazan that those Russian athletes who will not be allowed into France in 2024 will have to compete. Could this format become an alternative to the Olympic Games?
If you look at the medal tally of the 2020 Olympic Games, the first place is for the United States, second for China, third, oddly enough, for Japan, fourth for Great Britain, and in fifth place are Russian athletes who were prohibited from competing under the national flag . If China also ends up in the “rogue” club because of Taiwan or for some other reason, the BRICS Games will become a real counterweight to the pro-Western Olympics. Especially if it is a BRICS+ format, as the Deputy Minister of Sports of the Russian Federation Aleksey Morozov hinted at:
As for the BRICS Games, a regular meeting was held in August where all issues were discussed. All BRICS countries have confirmed their participation. We also have the right to consider the BRICS+ format with the participation of countries aspiring to join BRICS. It was proposed to create our own sports charter within this movement. Nobody wants to be subject to discriminatory conditions in relation to certain athletes. Almost the whole world has been invited to the Friendship Games, and there will be the widest possible participation.
The World Friendship Games, which will be held from September 15 to 29, 2024 in Moscow and Yekaterinburg, are another format of international competitions in 27 sports, alternative to the Olympics.