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Two-thirds of Russians surveyed slam ban on Paralympics as political tool

The poll says pressures placed on national athletes makes Russians increasingly certain there are political rivals stirring the pot

MOSCOW, August 18. /TASS/. Two out of three Russians believe that all charges by international organizations against Russia’s Paralympic team are politically motivated, this is what a poll carried out by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center found out.

"The latest doping scandal involving the Russian Paralympic team (the participation ban based on suspicion of massive doping abuse) is widely known… Two-thirds of those questioned (63%) see the international organizations’ accusations as politically motivated," the national pollster indicated on its website. Twenty percent of the respondents believe that massive doping abuse is commonplace in many countries and the demand to punish only Russian parathletes is groundless.

The public opinion research agency says the general public’s interest in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics is rather high. "All or some of the events have grasped the attention of 56% of Russians (including 19% percent of those who watch all competitions)," the pollster stated. At the same time the 2016 Summer Olympics are less popular than the Winter Olympics in Sochi (82% percent of the respondents said so), and the Vancouver Olympics (75%).

A large group (53%) said they felt pride when watching Russian athletes perform, 37% felt hope and 33%, respect. As for the events themselves, swimming and other water sports, gymnastics and volleyball are indicated as the most popular.

"Those who keep track of the Games are fully aware of the challenges the national team is confronted with. A majority sympathize with and respect the athletes who defy pressure from their naysayers and keep chalking up high scores. Continued pressures placed on Russian athletes, including the latest attempts to bar parathletes from competitions, makes Russians increasingly certain there are political rivals stirring the pot," notes the chief of the national pollster’s monitoring and electoral research department, Stepan Lvov.

The polling center questioned an audience of 1,600 men and women in 130 cities and communities in 46 regions, territories and republics of Russia’s nine federal districts on July 9-10. The margin of error did not exceed 3.5%.