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Sunday, May 29, 2022
HomeLatest NewsWhy Russian athletes are not outcasts, but heroes

Why Russian athletes are not outcasts, but heroes

Senator of the Russian Federation of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug – Yugra, member of the Organizing Committee of the International Paralympic Games “We are together. Sport” Eduard Isakov. Photo: Vladimir Trefilov/RIA Novosti

The Russia-Today International Multimedia Press Center hosted a round table organized by the Expert Institute for Social Research (EISI) on the theme “Transformation of the consolidation of the sports unit to the civil unit”.

According to the results of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Russian team won 32 awards: 6 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze. And he broke his 2014 record for the number of medals.

Our Olympians, who serve as role models for millions across the country and around the world, are now special heroes to us. They endured tremendous pressure. It came from Western politicians as well as sports officials. And attempts to “cancel” Russia’s sporting achievements have become a harbinger of other “cancellations” in relation to the country as a whole. The following topics were discussed at the round table:

– Sport in Russia’s domestic politics: a consolidating factor?

– Why does the feeling of pride for the country grow and what role does sport play in this?

– What does it mean to be a fan today?

The discussion was attended by the senator of the Russian Federation of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug – Yugra, a member of the organizing committee of the International Paralympic Games “We are together. Sport” Eduard Isakov, Russian grandmaster Sergey Karyakin, two-time Olympic champion Evgeny Rylov, head of the political analysis practice at VTsIOM Mikhail Mamonov, director of the State Sports Museum Elena Istyagina-Eliseeva, and political scientist Anna Fedorova.

The round table was moderated by Daria Kislitsyna, Director of the EISI Regional Programs Department.


Sergey Karyakin called what international sports organizations are doing in relation to our athletes a war:

– Let’s admit it: there has been a war against Russian athletes for a long time. The mere fact that you are Russian is enough to get you suspended from participating in international competitions. Of course, I thought about what can be done here. I think we should concentrate on holding competitions within Russia and in friendly countries. And when we feel more independent, psychologically it will be easier for everyone. And we won’t pay as much attention to their attempts by hook or by crook to impede us. Our people have been training for years and must have competitive alternatives. It is necessary to create sports associations with the BRICS countries, with other friendly countries. And we need the support of Russian sponsors and the state. I am very happy to see the winners of the Olympic Games, who today are honored by the president of the country.

In addition, we must not recognize the results of those competitions from which our athletes are suspended. Now the Russian teams have been suspended from the Chess Olympiads. Well, why acknowledge your results? Let’s focus on the tournaments where Russian athletes play. Who are they fooling abroad when they hold competitions without Russians? This cancels the sports principles!


Evgeny Rylov believes that the Russian fan has the right to see the strongest athletes of the country in “home starts”:

– Swimmers have been suspended for two years. But at the same time, we are adding openings, for example, to the Commonwealth Cup. In August, athletes from all friendly countries were invited there. Yes. The world championship was canceled for us as well as the European championship. But the fans are satisfied that the Russian competitions remain. The strongest guys in their distances on their types will enter for prizes. Our argument against sanctions is our time on the clock. Of course, whether the record seconds will be counted internationally, I don’t know yet. But it is already clear that many have changed their program to perform well in the Commonwealth Cup. People will adapt to the situation. It’s easier for us than in chess, probably, when all the strongest go to 8 lanes and compete in good competition. Regarding the suspension, by the end of the year we will see the situation and what to do next. At a minimum, if European and world records set at national championships will be officially counted.


Mikhail Mamonov spoke about what Russian society thinks about the expulsion of our athletes from world sport:

– The first conclusion: a high degree of resonance. 88% of fellow citizens are informed about the facts of the elimination of our athletes from participation in international competitions. In addition, they are resonant for those who live on the Internet and those who live on television. In addition, 9 out of 10 respondents believe that suspension is unacceptable, and only 7% consider it acceptable.

On the principle of “sport is out of politics.” 90% believe that this principle is not fulfilled and only 5% believe that it is fulfilled.

The suspension of our athletes is not considered fair by 90%, only 5% consider it fair

Aspect of the refusal of our athletes to participate in international tournaments. People understand that athletes are preparing for the biggest competitions for a long time, and the situation is psychologically difficult. At the same time, 63% supported the position of those who refused to participate in international competitions. 17% found it difficult to answer and 20% find the refusal wrong.

Sport is one of the most sensitive areas. We have traditionally had reason to be proud. And then the basics of sports were suddenly canceled. Sport is very human. There is a lot of drama there. When injustice occurs, it is painfully felt.


Elena Istyagina-Eliseeva spoke about why, despite attempts to divide us, the Russians came together more strongly.

– In fact, sport has always been an instrument of politics. Even Baron de Coubertin, who wrote this principle in a letter, traveled to Berlin in 1936 and admired the achievements of the Reich and Hitler. And in the 1920s he wrote that sport could keep colonized peoples in check. Sport is a complex sociocultural phenomenon. Much more than physical activity. A highly qualified athlete is a hero who motivates us to serve and makes us proud of the country. When for the past 20 years our athletes did not appear on billboards and commercials, and only foreign stars were idols, it was wild. And our champions were not recognized by sight. In our culture there was a change in the image of the hero. And now the world is trying to write off the Russian heroes. The West does not need Russians on pedestals, they should not become children’s idols. Everything was leading up to this. Deprivation of the flag, anthem, doping scandals. And there were no longer athletes-heroes of Russia, only some athletes who participated in some sorties. In this context, we come together, because true heroes are our true ideal, and it is still deep within us. In our country, from 1920 to 1950, our athletes did not participate effectively in international competitions. But nothing so radical for our children happened. There were also great champions then, like the 9-time boxing champion Nikolai Korolev, there were many athletes that children looked up to. Now is a difficult historical moment that we must solve ourselves, when Russian athletes are displacing the heroes of other countries. Why do people all over the world rush to see our synchronized swimmers perform to see the unique achievements, while we have half-empty stands at the Russian Championships in Chekhov? This is a disregard for ideals, the moral component of sport. Ask an ordinary schoolboy today: which athlete does he know? What will he answer?


Eduard Isakov on suspension lessons from Paralympic athletes:

– On March 2, our Paralympic team was able to start in Beijing. And on March 3, this decision was canceled, after listening to the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, who insisted on the elimination of the Russians. When I contacted our Paralympic athletes in Beijing, I saw that they were internally prepared for such a decision. And they said they would come back and perform in Russia. Many called me then, and all agreed that only Yugra could hold competitions at that time. We spoke on March 4, and already on March 16 the international competitions began. The governor of Ugra, Natalya Komarova, took such a bold step. And the journalists were able to see how professionally all the facilities and tracks were prepared. Everyone from the coaching staff to the KhMAO authorities and the athletes worked professionally.

I know that now the Ministry of Sports is developing a new strategy for training and major competitions, and all in dialogue with the regions. The concept of developing children’s and youth sports is being implemented. The indicators that the regions meet are determined.

Sport can develop normally if its financing is from 3% of the budget. And this without taking into account the construction of sports facilities.


Anna Fedorova on the failure of Western pressure:

– The VTsIOM data is surprising in a good way. After the West imposed sanctions, it backfired on what they expected. The main thing here is justice. Our people feel that athletes are being treated unfairly. And it provokes an adequate emotional reaction. This is one of the reasons for the drive. People felt that this was their own business. More than 60% believe that Russian athletes are doing the right thing by refusing to participate in competitions. It is especially ugly when in the West our athletes are forced to criticize the actions of the country’s leaders and the special operation in Ukraine itself. Cancel culture has a paradoxical impact. At some point it reaches the point of absurdity. With the cancellation situation, the West clearly went too far. There is no moral rectitude in the instrument they have chosen.


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