Russia has been banned from the 2018 Winter Olympic in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The ban was imposed when Russian Olympic Committee was found guilty of alleged "state-sponsored doping". Even government officials are prohibited to attend the events, their flag and symbols will not be displayed and their anthem will not be played.
Thomas Bach, President of International Olympic Committee said in a Press Conference, "Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is banned from competing in the upcoming Winter Olympics but the athlete can participate, be it individual or team competitions, under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia" with the acronym OAR. Olympic anthem will be played at any ceremony."
The purpose of Olympic games is to spread the philosophy of creating a peaceful and better world. Those nations which were engaged in a war or violated human rights have been banished from the games.
The individual athlete will participate if they come out "clean". They will wear the jersey with the abbreviation "OAR" and will carry the Olympic flag. Thomas Bach also mentioned, "The Russian doping system is an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic games and sports."
The purpose of Olympic games is to spread the philosophy of creating a peaceful and better world. Those nations which were engaged in a war or violated human rights have been banished from the games. But the case of Russia has gone far beyond. The doping case may not be a grievous crime against humanity or it might not cause a war but it may snag a healthy competition and deal a critical blow to the prestige of the Olympics.
But this punishment is too severe to handle. There are 32 games where Russian contenders have a very high chance of winning, and this harsh decision could completely jeopardise that possibility. Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, Curling, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Luge, Short Track Speedskating, Skeleton, Snowboard and Speedskating are the games where Russian team had the best chances of getting the medal.
Russia has already been banned for the Winter Paralympic Games by the International Paralympic Committee for the same doping charges.
Many in the sports circuit and beyond is raising the question whether such actions are really an attempt to keep international sporting events clean of drugs or is it a deliberate attempt to politicise the event? After all, the western world which controls such august sporting bodies has not been in best of terms with Putin's Russia. So a pertinent question could well be, is Russia suffering Putin's punishment.
It is yet to be seen how Vladimir Putin, one of the most influential leaders in the world, responds to this ban. He is not known to be taking national humiliation quietly.
The IOC is banning Russian officials from attending the event too. It is yet to be seen how Vladimir Putin, one of the most influential leaders in the world, responds to this ban. He is not known to be taking national humiliation quietly.
It will indeed be very unfortunate if the arena of Olympics sports turns into another Cold War between Russia and the West.
Athletes are requesting people not to judge other athletes if they participate in the games. Recently, two-time Olympic champion, Sergei Chepikov, urged people not to criticise the athletes who eventually decide to compete under a neutral flag at the Winter Olympics. But if the IOC is banning Russia, then why it is inviting athlete to play as an individual--deprived of their flag, national anthem and their pride. After all, the main motivation for a participating player is to hear one's own national anthem during the ceremony. Player represent their nation, not their individuality.
Whether it is a war against drugs or war against Russia, this chain of events has created a state of pain and anger for all Russian sportspersons and related authorities.
There is definitely a need to punish those who are violating the guidelines of such big and expensive events but this collective punishment and to ban a country from participation is not the solution.
(Disclaimer: The author writes here in a personal capacity).