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Russia to host world sports events as planned despite sanctions — Russian official

September 25, 2014, 19:43 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russia is scheduled to host a Formula One Grand Prix race this year, the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and the World Aquatics Championship in 2015
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© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuyev

MOSCOW, September 25. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia will host all scheduled international sports competitions as planned and none of the events will be cancelled in light of the recent Western sanctions against Russia, Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said on Thursday.

“Fortunately, decisions concerning sports tournaments are not made by members of the European Parliament, or by officials representing European authorities, or by definite countries, but they are made by sports organizations,” Zhukov, who is also the first deputy speaker of the Russian parliament’s lower house, said.

“They [sports organizations] are really independent from politicians of their countries, from European officials and, in contrast to those politicians, they realize that sports is one of not so many events, which unite people,” Zhukov said.

Having mentioned that “some politicians are trying to influence sports executives and exert pressure on them,” the ROC president said he was confident that it would not lead to “negative results in regard to the sports competitions, which Russia is scheduled to host.”

Some of the Western politicians earlier voiced calls to strip Russia of the right to host the World Cup in 2018 as a form of penalty regarding Moscow’s stance on the developments in neighboring Ukraine.

In particular, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in a July interview with the Sunday Times that it was “unthinkable” for the global football contest to take place in Russia and stripping the country of the event would be a "very potent political and symbolic sanction."

World football’s governing body, however, spoke against the possibility of relocating the 2018 World Cup insisting that the tournament in Russia could be “a force for good.”

''History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems,'' FIFA said in its statement in July.

Speaking further about the international sports events in Russia, Zhukov, who was one of the main figures behind the successful 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Russia earlier this year, said that “the [2018] World Cup, the [2015] World Aquatics Championship and the Formula One Grand Prix - will all take place [in Russia].”

Winter Olympics and Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi

In February and March, the Russian resort city of Sochi hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, which, according to international sports officials, athletes and visitors, were organized at the highest level possible and provided up-to-date infrastructure at all levels.

Sochi is currently gearing up to hold another large-scale global sports event next month as last December the International Automobile Federation (FIA) officially announced the calendar of the 2014 Formula One races, and the Grand Prix in Russia’s Sochi was scheduled for October 12 as the 16th out of 19 F1 Grand Prix races this year.

The Russian Grand Prix will be held at the racing track located near the Olympic Village in the coastal area of Sochi. The contract to include Russia in the calendar of F1 racing for the 2014-2020 period was signed in 2010 in Sochi by then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

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