The last few weeks have been rich in news related to the relationship between Russia and world sport. And this news evokes a moderate and reasonable optimism and the idea that our country, little by little, little by little, is returning to the great world stage.
Three episodes are worth highlighting.
The first is Vladimir Putin’s words about the performance of athletes at the Olympic Games in a neutral state. The president invited them to decide for themselves whether or not they will attend the Games under the white flag. This topic can be discussed for a long time, but the key conclusion is one: there will not be a big boycott of the Olympic Games by our country. And this is good, because Russian sport is really not ready for it. And if, for example, skiers and football players can stew in their own juice for quite a long time, then other less popular sports will simply fall apart.
Whether they will call us or not is another question. But we ourselves are not leaving.
What will happen in 2024 after such decisions?
Russian athletes were allowed to compete at the Paris Olympics. What will happen next?
The second episode seems insignificant, but significant. Recently, Finns and Estonians refused to participate in the World Team Gymnastics Championships, which will be held in Kazakhstan in November 2023. Yes, the tournament is not the best, the sport is not Olympic, but the situation itself deserves attention .
The details of the Finns’ refusal are here:
The Finnish team withdrew from the World Team Gymnastics Championships due to the participation of the Russians
About a year ago, talking about the return of Russian athletes to the world stage, we were worried that if some brave federation appeared and took a step towards us, then the entire West would unite in a friendly manner to boycott the tournament, create its own federation and dictate the rules.
But time passes, the Russians are beginning to be allowed in, although under a neutral flag, but the West is not willing to go against Russia with a single force. The list of countries that openly oppose such decisions is always approximately the same: the Baltic countries, Poland and Finland. From time to time, Germany and Great Britain put up obstacles. And of course Ukraine stands out. All.
And if the World Cup of any sport is boycotted by only a couple of countries that are not the most powerful, then that boycott has no value.
But world sport can no longer do without politics:
“Politics rules the world.” IOC head honestly explained why Russia cannot attend the Olympics
Well, the third episode is the juiciest.
The Russian wrestlers (not so much the athletes as the heads of the federation), of course, were a very strong and pleasant surprise. Years of positive relationships with United World of Wrestling (UWW) clearly have not been in vain. The strongest composition of the Russian national team was able to participate in the World Championships in Belgrade, while the international federation reported that all admitted wrestlers underwent testing to support a special military operation.
And neither the hysteria in Ukraine nor anyone else changed the situation. And the most interesting thing is that the Ukrainians did not withdraw from the tournament. It turns out that in wrestling in general all the strongest will be on the mat: there are no boycotts, no refusals, no prohibitions here. Only the Russian flag and anthem will be lost, but it may be too early to raise this delicate question.
The strongest Russian wrestlers will perform at the World Championship:
Russian sports stars were allowed to attend the World Cup for the first time since spring 2022. Wrestlers will rock Serbia!
Yes, not all federations are as brave as the fighters. In most other sports, they still try not to allow Russia’s best athletes to participate in large international tournaments, but the situation will change for the better. Unless, of course, sudden catastrophes occur in world politics.
But there is a big “but” in all this.
While we take note of all the positive trends, it is worth remembering that we, for our part, have very little influence on them. Yes, there are individual episodes of effective negotiations and warm relationships, but the switch that turns on the light is not in our hands. And we must think about how to approach it or prepare another bright room for ourselves.
In case someone decides to plunge our sport into darkness again.