MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. President of the International Fencing Federation, Alisher Usmanov, has sent a letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Thomas Bach urging him not to deny Russian athletes the opportunity of seeing their county’s flag and hearing the Russian anthem at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.
On December 5, the IOC decided to suspend membership of the Russian Olympic Committee, which bars the Russian national team from competing at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics under the national flag. The committee accused Russia of systematic doping violations, in particular, at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. On the other hand, the IOC intends to observe the rights of clean athletes - those who meet the proposed criteria will take part in the Games with the status of Olympic athletes from Russia under the IOC flag.
"Although any form of discrimination, according to the Olympic Charter, contravenes the principles of the Olympic movement, the IOC decision puts Russia’s clean athletes at a disadvantage when compared to athletes from other countries," Usmanov noted in his letter provided to TASS by his press service. "Having gone through such scrutiny to qualify for the Olympic Games, Russia’s clean athletes will be waiting for months for the IOC special commission’s to decide on their fate. They will be stripped of the support traditionally organized by the national Olympic Committees, and, most importantly, (they) will be stripped of the right to see the flag of their native country and listen to their country’s national anthem."
"Those innocent cannot be punished and forced on their knees. This degrades the dignity of any individual and athlete and undermines faith in law and justice. Athletes live their short life in sports for the sake of one brief moment - to see the flag of their country fluttering in the sky and hear the anthem of their mother country. That’s the pinnacle of their fame, that’s their (Mount) Everest," Usmanov wrote.
"I call on the members of the IOC Executive Board to weigh the scales of sports Themis, on the one hand, the desire to punish those guilty and, on the other, the rights and aspirations of Russia’s clean athletes, their equal rights as members of the Olympic family. Let’s give a chance to at least the winners of the 2018 Olympics from Russia to reach the pinnacle of their athletic dreams and see the flag of their homeland in the skies over PyeongChang," he concluded.