Politics in sports


Former Russian President Medvedev claims sports could move to Asia where level is "high"

Former Russian President Medvedev claims sports could move to Asia where level is "high"
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Former Russian President and current Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has claimed the country's National Federations could switch affiliation from Europe "where the level of the Asian Federation is high".

Athletes from Russia and Belarus competing in Asian events had been one proposal made as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) explores a pathway for their return as neutrals.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has promised it is "on standby" to welcome Russian and Belarusian athletes to its competitions, including to this year's delayed 022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, and its Athletes' Forum last week backed its stance.

The Chess Federation of Russia has already agreed to move to the Asian Chess Federation, but most have opted to stay in Europe despite restrictions on Russian nationals travelling to the continent because of the war in Ukraine.

Concerns have been raised over the practicalities of Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in Asian events, although the OCA has claimed that quota places for its athletes at next year's Olympics in Paris from the continent would be unaffected.

The IOC is exploring a pathway for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes, with their participation in Asian competitions one proposal ©Getty Images

International Federations, including World Archery, have rejected Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in Asia for Paris 2024 qualification purposes.

The IOC's move to lift its recommendations on the non-participation of athletes from both countries has proved controversial, and sparked an angry reaction in Ukraine.

Medvedev, Russia's President from 2008 until 2012, acknowledged there were pros and cons associated with a shift towards Asia in sport, but said it should be an option considered.

Regarding the transition to Asian Federations. If it is beneficial for athletes, why not?

he was quoted by Russia's official state news agency TASS.

Somewhere it gives pluses, somewhere it gives minuses.

But where the level of the Asian Federation is high, we must move.

If anything, we will return later or stay there.

Medvedev served a single term as President and was succeeded following the 2012 election by Vladimir Putin, who appointed him as Prime Minister.

He resigned along with the rest of the Government in January 2020 to allow Putin to make sweeping constitutional changes.

On the same day, Putin appointed Medvedev to the new office of deputy chairman of the Security Council.

While initially viewed as a more liberal politician compared to Putin, he has shifted to authoritarian tendencies and is a prominent supporter of the war in Ukraine.

Russia and Belarus' participation in international sport is expected to be discussed at next week's IOC Executive Board meeting ©IOC/Greg Martin

Medvedev acknowledged it is "very difficult" for Russian athletes, and criticised sanctions and bans implemented because of the war in Ukraine.

Obviously, the fact that they do not participate in competitions is the result of politically motivated decisions of sports organisations,

Medvedev said, as reported by TASS.

It's a shame for them.

For everyone, including, of course, the Olympic Committee and its leadership.

The IOC Executive Board is set to discuss the position of Russia and Belarus at its meeting from Tuesday (March 28) to Thursday (March 30).

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