Promoting peace through sports

A horrible situation is unfolding in Ukraine. It is not excusable that Putin started a war. There shall be consequences to Russia also in the world of sport to express the deep disapproval of the actions of Putin by the international community.

Not organising IOF events in Russia is a step the IOF had to take (obliged by the IOC). It is a symbolic step because no major events are planned in Russia in any of the orienteering disciplines, but an important symbolic step. So far, so good.

The reason why I felt that I have to write a post is the letter of the Ukrainian Orienteering Federation sent to the IOF and (apparently) to all member federations on Day 1 of the Russian attack.

This letter calls for “protest which promotes peace through sport”, accuses collectively all Russian athletes of “supporting Putin’s aggression when they are silent”, and claims that they “pretend not to notice the violence”.

Apparently, this was all clear in Ukraine on Day 1 of the Russian attack.

Against this clarity, it would be futile to try to bring up arguments about the way the Putin regime controls Russia, the position of the athletes within brainwashed masses who listen only to Russian media where even the words “attack”, “incursion”, and “war” are strictly forbidden, and the very real personal risks of prison athletes face for just showing up on a demonstration or making a facebook post with “anti-Russian” content.

Readers less familiar with the overall situation should note that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict stretches back to hundreds of years with lots of tit-for-tat aggression and arguments anchored 1000 years ago in the early Rurik dynasty. If anybody wants clarity, they should speak only to one side. If anybody wants to see all the complexities, they should try to fully understand the Middle East situation first, as a light warm-up exercise.

Independent of the historical background, peace never starts with an indiscriminate attack on other athletes who have nothing to do with the escalation of the terrible current situation and whose only sin is that they were born on the other side of the frontline.

The IOF should make it clear that Russian athletes not involved with the military are members of our community, and we welcome them as individuals at our events.

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