Should Russia be banned from the 2024 Olympics?

Reuters, BBC - March 20, 2024

Fact Box

  • Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, “unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending in troops and tanks” with condemnation coming from countries worldwide. 
  • Paris, France is set to host the 2024 Olympics with the Gracenote Virtual Medal Table forecasting the United States, China, Great Britain, Japan, and France predicted as first, second, third, fourth, and fifth place medal-winners.
  • NPR reports that following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) originally announced that athletes from Russian and Belarus could not compete in the 2024 Olympics. However, in December 2023, the IOC reversed their decision, announcing Russian and Belarusian players could compete as “Individual Neutral Athletes”—a decision both Ukraine and Russian immediately condemned.  
  • The US has won the most Olympic medals (3,105 total, 1,229 gold), according to Olympedia. The Russian Federation has accumulated 779 total medals, 290 gold.

Luis (No)

While the Russian regime and armed forces need to face some consequences for invading Ukraine and committing war crimes, banning Russian athletes from the Olympic games is a highly unfair move. After all, Russian sportsmen and sportswomen have nothing to do with this armed conflict and are not to blame for the Kremlin's decisions. They shouldn't be banned, as authorities would punish innocent people and all of Russia's citizens on the whole by barring them from competing in such a significant sporting event.

Also, this measure has already been taken and has ended up being a total failure. The most recent example was Wimbledon 2022, which became one of the weirdest editions in this Tennis Grand Slam's history due to the absence of Russian superstars such as Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev. Additionally, Russia has always been one of the most important nations in the history of the Olympic games, not only because it has hosted this event twice—in 1980 and again in 2014—but also because many of its athletes, like other nations, have delivered some great Olympic moments in sports history. Given this situation, banning these athletes would downgrade such an important sporting event.

Finally, banning them would be counterproductive to promoting sportsmanship and unity, considering that the Olympic games have always been a platform that encourages the best values among nations. Banning the nation wholesale and not recognizing its athletes as Russian competitors goes against the Olympic spirit and stated goal of using its 'unifying power' to 'bring the world together in peaceful competition.' If the Olympic games want to maintain their sporting essence and attractiveness, restricting innocent athletes who have nothing to do with the war sends a wrong message that will affect not only the Russian people but also fans all over the world.

Rob (Yes)

While the thought of banning Russia from the 2024 Olympics might seem unfair to innocent Russian athletes who have little to do with the war, stripping the Olympics of official Russian presence is necessary to maintain the credibility and reputation of the organization and its principles, which include friendship, excellence, and respect

Disallowing Russia to have its athletes officially present in the games—that is, representing Russia—would be a rightful punishment for Russia's aggression in Ukraine. It would also serve as a statement of warning to deter future invasions or similar acts of aggression by any country hoping to be involved in the Olympic games, sending a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated on the international stage. Furthermore, it would serve as a warning that the consequences of such activities extend beyond political and economic sanctions and include exclusion from one of the world's most prominent sporting events, like what happened after the world wars.

The Olympics embody global peace, unity, and fair competition among nations. Russia's invasion of Ukraine clearly violates these principles and contradicts the spirit of the Olympic movement and everything it stands for. Banning Russia's official presence would, therefore, show the organization's unwavering commitment to upholding these principles and demonstrate its solidarity with Ukraine and other affected nations

Allowing Russia to have its athletes participate in the Olympics on behalf of Russia would also tarnish the organization's reputation and undermine its values of fairness, inclusivity, and sportsmanship, especially when it's already under the spotlight for corruption cases. Banning Russian presence from the Olympics is not just a symbolic gesture but a crucial step towards holding Russia accountable for its actions and possibly fostering a path toward reconciliation and ending the conflict.

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