A year ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin showed what he thinks of the Olympic truce, which was supposed to guarantee the safe holding of the Olympic Games in pre-Christian times: Four days after the end of the Winter Games in Beijing and a week before the opening of the Paralympic Games, his army attacked Ukraine.
The man, who had previously liked to show up with sports officials like IOC President Thomas Bach or Fifa boss Gianni Infantino, didn't give a damn about the Olympic ethos.
Since then, the IOC has been wrestling with how to deal with Russian and Belarusian athletes, especially with a view to the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. Bach said recently that a way for the participation of athletes from both countries was being examined "under strict conditions".
In the WELT AM SONNTAG interview at the beginning of January, the German had already emphasized that "a distinction must be made between the representation of the country and those responsible for this war and the question of the participation of athletes". If anything, the athletes could only start "under completely neutral conditions".
Such mind games trigger horror on the Ukrainian side. President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has already threatened to boycott his country's Olympic Games and has received broad political support for this. On the initiative of Great Britain, more than 30 nations discussed a joint response on Friday. The IOC meanwhile described the threat of an Olympic boycott as "premature".
In fact, it seems absurd to let Russians and Ukrainians compete against each other in fair sporting competitions in times of war. Because as apolitical as the sports movement likes to be: Especially at the Olympic Games, the athletes are always representatives of their country - with or without a flag on their jerseys.
As sad as it is for young Russian and Belarusian athletes who train their entire lives to reach this peak: Only a complete exclusion of the two countries would be a signal worthy of Olympic values. Such an exclusion would not be the responsibility of the IOC or the Ukrainians threatening a boycott, but solely of one person: warmonger Putin.