Kremlin reveals ‘emphasis’ from Putin amid sporting bans

Kremlin reveals ‘emphasis’ from Putin amid sporting bans

Russian athletes are facing sweeping sporting sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed the need to introduce a new system of domestic sporting competitions as a counterbalance to the international bans currently in place against Russian athletes, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

Russia has been hit with widespread sporting sanctions since the onset of its military campaign in Ukraine, following a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the end of February that Russian and Belarusian competitors should not be invited to major events wherever possible.

Russian officials and sporting figures have criticized the bans as discriminatory and undermining the IOC’s own principles of sport being outside politics.

As the suspension of Russian athletes drags on, actions have been taken to substitute global competitions with alternatives inside Russia – an effort which Peskov noted that President Putin had advocated.

“It’s better to ask our [sports] authorities, Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin… [But] I can only say that at various events with the participation of the president, the topic of Russian sports was repeatedly discussed against the backdrop of the unprecedented sports restrictions that were introduced,” Peskov told reporters in Vladivostok on Tuesday, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

“The president emphasized the need to introduce a whole system of domestic competitions, expanded competitions with the participation of other, friendly countries,” the Kremlin official added.

Russia has made headway with new domestic events, compensating for the ban on the nation’s Paralympic athletes from the Beijing Games earlier this year by arranging its own event – ‘We Are Together. Sport’ – in Siberia as an alternative, inviting several other nations to attend.

The recent ‘Spartakiad’ series of events – an idea revived from Soviet times – was also praised as a success.

In football, a revised format for the Russian Cup has been introduced amid a ban from UEFA competitions for the country’s top clubs.

Meanwhile, Russian Sports Minister Matytsin has been among those to tout more sporting cooperation with allies in the CIS, BRICS and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) groups of nations.

Peskov added that even as Russia continues these developments, it will fight to protect the interests of its athletes in any discussions with Olympic officials.

“As for relations with the IOC – and the president has repeatedly spoken about this – we are all obliged, in any contact, including with the IOC and with other organizations, to continue to protect the interests of our athletes, which, in fact, is happening,” Peskov told reporters.

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