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    Five rings of hell. Will you have to renounce your country for the sake of the Olympics?


    on December 8, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the Olympics 2024 in Paris in a neutral status, subject to a number of strict conditions. What is hidden behind this formulation? What would a potential participant have to give up in order to travel? Sport correspondent deciphers.

    After the IOC’s statement on the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes in a neutral status to the Olympic Games in Paris, a discussion arose in the sports community – how to evaluate the decision? For example, Honored Coach of the USSR Tatyana Tarasova called it positive. And, probably, the fact that the athlete has at least a theoretical choice – to go under the conditions put forward or to refuse – can be called a step forward.

    However, that's where the good ends. There are six pages of guidelines for the participation of individual neutral athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport. If you study them thoroughly, it becomes clear that in order to go to the Olympic Games in Paris you will have to give up a lot of things. The key ones have been identified.

    Firstly, even before the moment when the athlete begins to think about whether to fulfill the conditions, he must be lucky. If, as a child, he happened to take part in a team sport – for example, he dreamed of becoming like Michael Jordan. Or if his sport is led by such an odious character as World Athletics President Sebastian Coe. So, no luck. IOC bosses say that the current decision was made, among other things, to respect human rights. As you can see, they are violated even before the decision comes into force – this simply does not apply to a number of athletes. “C'est la vie,” in the language of the hosts of the future Olympics.

    br>Let's say you are not from a team sport, but your international federation has sane leadership. Now the relevant services will check whether you have shown active support for Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and whether you are under contract with the army or security services. If “customs gives the go-ahead” on these points and there are no problems with anti-doping, then you can fly to Paris. But…

    You will need to take white or monotonous clothes with you. Moreover, the rules state that this applies to both competition and training equipment, as well as costumes for ceremonies, formal and casual wear. That is, if you follow the criteria literally, you won’t be able to go out onto the streets of Paris in blue jeans and a white shirt, because it will no longer be a white or monotonous outfit. And if you add red shoes, then there will be instant disqualification – an association with national colors will arise, which is strictly prohibited.

    The only exception is costumes provided for by the regulations of the international federation, that is, for example, dresses for rhythmic gymnastics. But Irina Viner, it seems, does not intend to let anyone go to the Olympics, and the girls themselves, it seems, are not eager to go there under such conditions.

    More about appearance. The rules specifically state that the color of hair, nails, bracelets, jewelry and anything that you may be wearing or applied to your body cannot in any way relate to or hint at belonging to Russia, Belarus or any national identification, official or unofficial , as well as organizations, commercial or non-profit, from these countries. Not to mention, of course, symbols associated with the Northern Military District or any military theme. The colors of the St. George's Ribbon are also prohibited from being mentioned separately.

    So you packed your suitcase, carefully checking that everything met the criteria of neutrality, and went to the airport. It is clear that there is no talk of a solemn farewell ceremony with flags and anthem – after it you don’t even have to get on the plane. You need to make sure that no one who is going to see you off privately is wearing a cap or jacket with Russian symbols. If someone takes this and publishes the photo in the media or social network, not to mention a selfie, it will be counted as a violation of the conditions of conduct of a neutral athlete. Strictly speaking, even a balalaika in your hands (well, what if you don’t play the guitar) will become a “foul” leading to disqualification.

    So, you have arrived in Paris, moved into the Olympic Village. Are you planning to go to the opening ceremony? Wait, they haven't said yet whether you will be allowed to do this. All Olympians, according to the charter, are equal, but some are more equal.

    “A decision regarding the participation of individual neutral athletes in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games will be made at a later date,” notes the document released IOC.

    Okay, we survived another injustice, went to the start and won gold. We received a medal, a diploma and listened to a certain melody on the podium (the IOC will determine it later, for now it is known for sure that it will not be the Olympic anthem). That's it, are you a champion in the Olympic chronicle? Yes, while you:

    – You won’t say in a victory interview that you won a medal for the country. Let us remind you that any association with Russia or Belarus is prohibited. You will tell the correspondent how you hit your opponent to the left (if you are a tennis player) or threw him over your hip (if you are a wrestler). By the way, a separate issue is the behavior of media representatives. Will it be possible to ask athletes questions related to Russia? How can one comment on competitions on TV? Is it possible, for example, to say where a neutral athlete was born? Probably, later the IOC will issue separate instructions on this topic, but something tells me that there will be more bans than permits.

    – Do not take part in any event where there is an association with the country, after the Olympic Games, already in your homeland or anywhere else. A ceremonial meeting, accepting gifts from the state (including awards), taking photographs with fans are prohibited things. But there are also non-obvious “stop signals”. Do you want to perform at the Friendship Games after the Olympics? Please, but there you will compete under the flag, and this will absolutely lead to your disqualification as a neutral athlete and the cancellation of your result at the Olympics. This is exactly the punishment spelled out in the last paragraph of the IOC document.

    Perhaps you will make the following argument here: but at the last three Olympics, Russian athletes also competed in a neutral status, they were not punished for anything – not for small pranks like wearing hairpins in Russian colors, or for collective singing of the anthem in the Olympic village ? This is true, but now is a completely different story. The IOC is under pressure on a completely different level and will carefully ensure that those few athletes from Russia and Belarus who make it to Paris strictly comply with all neutrality criteria before, during and after the Games.

    Conclusion: the term “neutralization” from IOC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov is not irony or an exaggeration. Yes, the IOC gave you the right to compete at the Olympic Games in Paris (remember, we are talking only specifically about this Olympics) – if you are lucky enough to be not a player, not an athlete, and not a representative of CSKA or Dynamo.

    However, in order to set foot on French Olympic soil, achieve something on it and not subsequently lose your achievement, to summarize all of the above, you will have to abandon the country. Or, at least, a sports career in it. All you will have left from belonging to Russia is your passport. Are you sure you dreamed about this?

    The author’s opinion may not coincide with the position of the editors

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