Alexandra Xanthaki’s assessment: IOC consultant – Russia’s military personnel should also start at the Olympics

Status: 03/28/2023 11:41 a.m

In the run-up to the IOC Executive Session, IOC advisor Alexandra Xanthaki spoke out in favor of allowing members of the Russian military to take part in the Olympic Games. There was heavy criticism from athletes, especially from Ukraine.

Like several international media outlets including “Associated Press” and “Guardians” reports, UN adviser Alexandra Xanthaki has spoken out in favor of members of the Russian military being allowed to take part in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Xanthaki, lawyer and UN rapporteur on cultural rights, advises the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on how to deal with athletes from Russia and Belarus. At its meeting on Tuesday (March 28th, 2023) in Lausanne, the IOC executive announced that it would adopt “guard rails” for the return of previously banned athletes – especially with a view to the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

The war of aggression against Ukraine continues with all its atrocities, but the International Olympic Committee wants to set “guard rails” for Russia’s return at a long meeting.

UN adviser Xanthaki: “Exclusion of Russian military is discriminatory”

UN adviser Xanthaki has already commented in advance of the IOC decision. It makes no sense to generally exclude Russian soldiers and members of the Russian military, said Xanthaki during a meeting with athletes’ representatives convened by the IOC.

This was discriminatory, Xanthaki said AP cited because there have been athletes from other countries who have been actively involved in military operations. They were also not excluded from competitions. “We cannot hold those responsible for carrying out orders, even in operations contrary to international law.”

Exclusion only for “human rights violations” and “war propaganda”

Russian sport is closely linked to the army, and many athletes are military personnel. Excluding them from competitions is only justifiable for Xanthaki, also against the background of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, if athletes join the military “serious human rights violations” were guilty, according to the Greek lawyer. Especially with “crimes against humanity and genocide“.

It is also possible to exclude individual athletes if they “active war propaganda“, but this would also have to be proven on a case-by-case basis.

Outraged reactions from Ukraine

As expected, the reactions from Ukraine were outraged. Skeleton pilot Vladislav Heraskevich described Xanthaki’s comments to the “Guardians” as “crazy“. The Ukrainian was one of the athletes who connected with Xanthaki. Many of the other participants were also shocked, according to Heraskevich: “About the fact that she obviously wants to prepare a legal way for Russians to be allowed to compete again. Despite the illegally waged war.

In any case, the UN lawyer Xanthaki publicly gave her assessment of the explosive Russia question before the IOC executive session. At the same time, this could be a trend in which direction the “guard rails” point, which the IOC Presidency wants to define in Lausanne.

Some points of their arguments are reminiscent of the statements made by the IOC in recent weeks. The executive committee under President Thomas Bach had repeatedly spoken of discrimination if athletes were to be excluded from competitions because of their nationality.

Xanthaki’s suggestions sound like Thomas Bach

The IOC has also heard the proposal to make the participation of Russia and Belarus subject to conditions. Even the list of criteria that the IOC used a few weeks ago to show the possible way forward for a possible return of Russian athletes was about a commitment by Russian athletes not to support Putin’s war of aggression.

With Xanthaki, it is now the expulsion of military personnel who were actively involved in war crimes. Implementing this seems just as unrealistic as the proof of attitude brought into play by the IOC. Because a possible reappraisal of the war and trials for war crimes are still a long way off.

On Tuesday, the IOC will meet to decide whether athletes from Russia and Belarus can again take part in international sports competitions. The World Fencing Federation has already allowed them back, which led to a boycott of Ukrainian fencers.

Ukrainian and German demonstrators protested during the visit of IOC President Thomas Bach in Essen. They are calling for Russian athletes to be excluded from the 2024 Olympic Games.

Xanthaki also noted in a tweet that “all associations of the Global South” would support the course of the IOC to allow athletes from Russia to start under a neutral flag. This also sounds suspiciously like the IOC line of the German President: Thomas Bach had repeatedly referred to the fact that the reintegration of Russia and Belarus from supported by a majority of the national Olympic committees.

Another appeal against Russia’s approval – also from athletes in Germany

In the case of the active, however, the picture of opinion continues to look different. After the German national fencing team had already spoken out against Russia being admitted to the Olympic Games, more than 300 international fencers sent an open letter to the world federation and the IOC on Tuesday.

At the beginning of March, the world association FIE decided to return Russian and Belarusian athletes. The activists protested against this in their appeal and demanded that the suspension against Russia and Belarus be maintained. The unilateral war of aggression is a “Breach of the Olympic Truce“, which should not be ignored or even approved, it said in the protest note. “It would be a catastrophic mistake to go back to business as usual.”

On the day of the deliberations of the IOC Executive Committee, the Athleten Deutschland association also reiterated its demand for a complete exclusion of Russia and Belarus. This one must”for associations, officials, and unfortunately also for athletes“, explained athletes Germany: “World sport must allow its infiltration through Russian influence to be systematically and independently processed.