|Vladimir Putin and Aleksandr Lukashenko, President of the Russian Federation and Belarus respectively, are feeling the sporting sanctions of their countries, as they are looming on the prospect of not having a presence in the 2024 and 2026 Olympic Games. So they are proposing a bootless alternative. |
The two countries are currently banned from participating in the majority of Olympic sports -and dozens of other non-Olympic sports- due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’s role as a puppet state. This was a particularly necessary measure considering that the country broke the Olympic truce -yet again- during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Sport has been used as a form of propaganda in these two states, which have some top-of-class sportspeople in several Olympic and Paralympic events. Since they cannot compete internationally anymore, they have one less tool for propaganda but are also interfering with a form of entertainment that people value a lot, especially in these countries. One should not undermine the importance that individuals place in sports. Hence, such desperation to find ways to play.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an informal organization of consists of China, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, with Iran possibly joining soon. This organization had a meeting last week, in which India’s President, Narendra Modi, scolded Putin for his invasion of Ukraine and Putin was left waiting for other heads of state before their respective meetings – a play he would use on other foreign leaders.
The meeting showed that international leaders do not want to play with Putin. They avoided usual physical contact with Putin, to clearly show that the situation is more hostile than friendly. Putin does not have any leverage whatsoever to run parallel multi-sport games taking place at the same time as the Olympics, as the Belarusian dictator hinted.
Putin might fathom a colonizing and neo-colonizing Russian Federation akin to the Soviet Union. But times have changed. Some Central Asian countries have been able to effectively develop business pipelines that do not rely on in Russia. China and India are not accountable to him whatsoever. If anything, China is multiple times more powerful than Russia. And, more importantly, any other country than Russia and Belarus has exactly zero interest in playing against Russia…Instead of the rest of the world. Nothing to win politically, competitively, or commercially.
In a divided, polarized world, we saw two editions of the Olympic Games where boycotts were followed by dozens of countries. But no longer did dozens of countries rely economically upon the Soviet Union to survive. If anything, again China would have more leverage – if it has. But again, China has taken a more global vision on their international undertaking and receives no benefit from alienating the rest of the world.
Putin referred to the “questions and concerns” that China has. It is more than “questions and concerns”. It is a global demand to change course and hold those responsible for murder and torture accountable.
Russia can’t play so they want to start their own game. But they have no ball or opponent to play with. Except for Belarus.
This idea is dead on arrival.