Friendship Games: IOC warns athletes, countries to stay away from Russia-organized games

Do you know that a rival style Olympic Games known as the Friendship Games is being organized by the Russian Federation and will kick off in September 2024? But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has denounced such moves and called out Russia for trying to politicize the Olympic Games charter. See more details below.

Friendship Games: IOC warns athletes, countries to stay away from Russia-organized games

Russia has been accused of a “cynical attempt” to politicize sport for its controversial plans to host a “Summer Friendship Games” shortly after the Paris Olympic Games.

According to the Russian state news agency TASS, 5,500 people are expected to participate at the Friendship Games, competing for a total prize purse of 4.6 billion rubles (around $50 million)!

The Friendship Games were first staged in 1984 in the Soviet Union, the same year that the country had boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics that year. It was organized by the Soviet Union and eight other countries after they boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, citing safety concerns in what they considered a hostile and anti-communist environment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the event will ensure “free access of Russian athletes and sports organizations to international sports activities,” TASS reported.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has criticized Russia’s so-called Friendship Games as being “purely politically motivated” and a violation of the Olympic Charter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed last year to start organizing summer and winter events under the banner of the Friendship Games, paying tens of millions of dollars in prize money.

The games aim to counter the country’s increasing isolation in international sports – and growing tensions with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Bach – since the military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The world Friendship game is a Multi-sport event set to be held in Moscow in September 2024, with a winter edition planned for in 2026.


At the United Nations in New York four months ago, Russian diplomat Maria Zabolotskaya used a debate on an Olympic truce for Paris to invite the world to the Friendship Games, citing her country’s support for “honest and fair competitions.”

The first games are scheduled in Moscow and Yekaterinburg in September 2024, with prize fund reported by Russian media totaling 4.6 billion rubles which the IOC does not pay or give such to any competing athlete on the Olympic Games.

However, in a Tuesday PRESS RELEASE, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) took aim at Russia for “the blatant violation of the Olympic Charter” as well as “the infringement of the respective UN resolutions” and “the disrespect for the athletes and for the integrity of sports competitions.”

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) strongly urges all stakeholders of the Olympic movement and all governments to reject any participation in and support of, any initiative that intends to fully politicize international sport,” it said in a statement published during a meeting of its executive board chaired by Bach.

Russia is excluded from all team sports at the Olympic and individual athletes must pass two layers of vetting – by their sport’s governing body and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – to get neutral status to compete without their national symbols of flag, anthem and uniforms in red, white and blue.

Russia is expected to send a much reduced team to Paris this summer compared with Tokyo three years ago, when athletes also had to compete as neutrals as punishment for widespread doping violations.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday that there are currently 12 individual neutral athletes from Russia and seven from Belarus who have qualified for the Paris Games.

This is expected to rise to 36 and 22 respectively, compared with the Russia Olympic Committee’s team of more than 300 in Tokyo.

“The logic was very clear to us in that the Individual Neutral Athletes will be competition as individuals and during an opening ceremony the athletes’ parade as delegations or teams,” said James Macleod, director of the National Olympic Committee Relations, Olympic Solidarity and Olympism365 at the IOC.

“Since there won’t be any delegation or a team that was the main reason behind that. There is also a precedent which was set at the 1992 Games in Barcelona where the former Yugoslav athletes were competing as individual Olympic participants at the time, did not take part in the athletes parade.”

The IOC has also produced an independent anthem, with no lyrics, to be played for any Russian or Belarusian gold medal winners in France this summer.

Sports officials have said in private conversations the contingent of Russian athletes competing as neutrals in Paris could range from about 25 to 50.

One reported goal of the Friendship Games has been to create international competitions for Russian athletes and teams whose careers have stalled during the war in Ukraine.

The Russian Government has created and funded the “International Friendship Association (IFA), in order to host the summer and winter “Friendship Games”. Russia’s announcement last year came with their athletes and those of ally Belarus having been largely frozen out of international competition by international sports federations in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which banned the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in October for recognizing regional Olympic councils for Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia, has allowed athletes from Russia and Belarus to qualify for and compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic this year but they will do so as neural athletes, without flags or anthems and emblems.

Last week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) expressed “ongoing concerns” about the Friendship Games, which it describes as an “unsanctioned event.”

A WADA statement added, “In particular, it is concern that as the event will not take place under the protection of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Code), the health of and fairness for athletes may be compromised.”

It is unclear which countries have committed to sending teams to Russia in September and if sports officials are involved in the process. The Olympic Committee has called on countries to avoid the games, set to be launched weeks after the summer Paris Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) warned yesterday of athletes outside “being forced by their governments into participating, thereby being exploited as part of a political propaganda campaign.

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