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Russian PM urges SCO to stand against ‘politicization of sports’

Following the IOC recommendations in late February, the majority of global sports federations decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from all international sports tournaments

MOSCOW, November 1. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin called on the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for a joint struggle against attempts of politicizing sports and destroying the Olympic principles.

Mishustin stressed that the Russian athletes encountered "heavy pressure exerted on behalf of the collective West," while it seemed that sports must always be "beyond politics."

"SCO member states are unanimous that sports competitions must remain an effective and affordable tool used for strengthening trust and mutual understanding between peoples," the premier said at a meeting of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Heads of Government on Tuesday.

"We must jointly fight to foil any attempts to destroy the high principles of Olympism," he continued.

The Russian prime minister noted that this is what the initiative behind setting up the proposed Association of Sports Organizations under the SCO’s patronage, put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit in Samarkand, is aimed at.

"This [proposed] organization is seen as unifying representatives of [sports] structures that are part of the SCO, BRICS, the EAEU and the CIS, but at the same time will be open to other participants," Mishustin said.

"Athletes representing our countries will be able to honestly compete in major tournaments," the premier emphasized. "On top of all that, the focus will be not on professional sports, but first of all, on mass sports."

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in 2001 by six states: Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Uzbekistan. Later, in 2017, Pakistan and India joined the club. Four other countries - Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia - hold observer status, while several other nations - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Cambodia, Qatar, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Sri Lanka - are dialogue partners.

On February 28, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued recommendations to international sports federations to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in international tournaments, citing Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine as the reason.

Following the IOC recommendations in late February, the majority of global sports federations decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from all international sports tournaments.

In mid-October, IOC President Thomas Bach announced that the Olympic body recommended keeping athletes from Russia and Belarus suspended from international sports tournaments.

Russia is currently a subject to another set of international sanctions imposed about two years ago. On December 17, 2020, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland’s Lausanne partially upheld WADA’s (the World Anti-Doping Agency) previous ruling on a host of sanctions against Russian sports.

Following the CAS decision, Russian athletes were deprived of their right to participate in all World Championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games under the national flag of Russia and to the tune of the national anthem for two years.

The ruling of the Swiss-based court also stripped Russia of the right to bid for organizing any international sports tournaments for a period of two years. WADA’s sanctions will be in effect until December 2022.