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Putin warns against sport being used for ‘political aims’

The Russian leader noted cooperation with China as he urged sport to be a force for ‘joy and unity’Putin warns against sport being used for ‘political aims’

Putin warns against sport being used for ‘political aims’

Putin spoke out against the politicization of sport. ©  RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klimentyev

Russian President Vladimir Putin has cautioned against using sport to pursue political aims, as he praised the organization of events with China during a call with Xi Jinping on Friday.

“Recently, the third Russian-Chinese Winter Youth Games ended in Changchun,” Putin said, as quoted by RIA Novosti. “This is one of the central events within the framework of the ongoing years of cooperation between Russia and China in the field of physical culture and sports.

“The games were organized at the highest level and once again confirmed that sport is universal, and that international competitions should give people joy and a sense of unity, and not be used for momentary political aims,” Putin added.

Putin and Xi discussed various aspects of bilateral relations during their video call, with the Russian leader extending an invitation to the Chinese president to hold a meeting in person in Moscow next year. Back in February, Putin was among the guests when China hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Putin invites Xi for state visit

Putin invites Xi for state visit

Putin invites Xi for state visit

The Russian leader’s comments on Friday come as his nation’s athletes find themselves banned from a wide range of competitions because of the conflict in Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially recommended on February 28 that sports federations should not invite Russian and Belarusian competitors to global events.

In a potential shift in that stance, the IOC said after a summit in December that it would explore proposals for athletes from the two countries to return to competitions organized under the auspices of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). That could potentially pave the way for Russian and Belarusian sportspeople to be cleared in time for qualifying events for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Russian figures, including Putin, have consistently decried the sanctions imposed on the nation’s athletes as discriminatory and undermining the principle of sport being immune from the influence of politics. Speaking in March, Putin accused the IOC of “trampling” on its own values by removing the right for Russian athletes to compete.

Russia’s sporting heroes of 2022

In the face of Western-driven sanctions, Russian officials have increasingly talked up the development of sporting ties with the BRICS, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) groups of nations – the latter of which is the world’s largest regional bloc.

Putin suggested at a SCO summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in September that the organization could establish a formal association of sports federations to facilitate ties between members. Elsewhere, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko has noted that the SCO has a potential audience of several billion people among its members.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said earlier this month after a video meeting with his Chinese colleagues that the two nations were set to hold more than 600 joint events in 2023 as part of a new agreement.   


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