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12 Dec 2017 23:24
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  •   Home > News > International

    #NoRussiaNoGames: State TV, banned athletes take aim at IOC over Pyeongchang Winter Olympics ban

    Russian state television leads the charge in attacking the International Olympic Committee's decision to ban Russia from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, which some said was tantamount to genocide.

    It was a hysterical few hours in Russia after the decision was made to ban the national team from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

    State media led the patriotic charge, with one channel, Russia 24, putting a red strike through the Olympic logo in the corner of the screen.

    The hashtag they've pushed over the last few weeks, #NoRussiaNoGames, was also on prominent display.

    One expert declared the decision to bar Russia's Olympians as tantamount to genocide.

    The discussion, to begin with at least, was all about whether it was right to skip the 2018 Games altogether.

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin appeared to nip that one in the bud on Wednesday evening.

    "We certainly won't declare a boycott," he said.

    "We won't prevent our Olympians from participating if there are those that want to take part in a personal capacity."

    The decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) permits "invited athletes" to compete without a Russian uniform, the Russian flag or the national anthem.

    Mr Putin previously said that would be a humiliation.

    Former sport minister and current Deputy Prime Minister, Vitaly Mutko, who's banned from all future Olympic events for his alleged role in the doping scandal, wrote on Twitter that athletes who wanted to compete "should not be called traitors".

    "They should be supported whatever their decision," he said.

    "There's nowhere left to retreat, it's time to give the West a kick up the arse!"

    A Russian flag and a flexing bicep emoticon hammered home the message.

    Politicians of all stripes lashed out at what they see as a political decision not to let the Russian Olympic team compete.

    "This is without doubt a part of the West's broad attempt to restrain Russia," said Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

    His deputy, Andrei Klimov, added more detail.

    "If you look at the members of WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency], you will be surprised to see … that the majority represent NATO states," he said.

    "And it's people representing these states — that have devoted their policies to constrain Russian international politics — who dictate to us who is right and who is wrong."

    Conspiracy theory circulates

    Russian bobsledder Alexander Zubkov, who has just been stripped of his two golds from the Sochi Olympics for doping, was similarly combative.

    "The IOC … has a very negative view of Russian sportsmen," he told the ABC.

    "Athletes [are] being banned for life and having their medals taken away without proof they've done anything wrong."

    It's a view that's trickled into the broader population; that a conspiracy is afoot, directed by the West, to strip Russian athletes of their medals and Russia of its honour.

    Which is why it came as something of a surprise in central Moscow on Wednesday when one older gentleman told me:

    "You know, we've only got ourselves to blame, though the punishment's a bit harsh.

    "They should have fixed the problem two years ago so we wouldn't be treated like this."

    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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