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Sunday , September 15 2019

Russia’s Putin slams politicisation of sport – Isinbayeva to retire

From left: Russia’s Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prince’s Albert II of Monaco attend the World Olympians Forum in Moscow on Oct 21. (AFP)
From left: Russia’s Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prince’s Albert II of Monaco attend the World Olympians Forum in Moscow on Oct 21. (AFP)

MOSCOW, Oct 21, (Agencies): Russian President Vladimir Putin called Wednesday for international measures to prevent politics from spilling over into sport as the West continues to snub Moscow over the Ukraine crisis. “Sporting ideals and principles are more often becoming hostage to political opportunism,” Putin said at the inaugural meeting of the world’s Olympic associations in Moscow.

“This goes against the philosophy of the Olympic movement, which is based on respect, justice and openness.” Russia is set to host the 2018 World Cup in 11 cities, despite calls by some foreign lawmakers to boycott the tournament over Moscow’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis, where 18 months of clashes between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists have left over 8,000 dead.

Putin said a UN resolution that could “finally cement the de-politicisation of sport in international law” was needed. “We advocate for sports to stay out of politics,” he said. Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and its subsequent support of pro-Russian insurgents in the country’s east sank Russia’s relations with the West to their post-Cold War nadir. Russia’s actions in Ukraine had fuelled calls to boycott the Sochi Paralympic Games, held just days before Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach echoed Putin’s statements Wednesday, saying that any form of boycott was discriminatory and at odds with the Olympic spirit. World football governing body FIFA — embroiled in a large-scale corruption scandal partly over the award of the 2018 tournament to Russia — has maintained that Russia would not be stripped of its right to host the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Russian star pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva said Wednesday she plans to retire after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she has her sights sets on a third Olympic gold. “If everything goes as planned, I will be in a new role next year,” Isinbayeva told journalists at a meeting of the world’s Olympic associations in Moscow.

“I won’t say in which role for the time being.” Olympians and sport officials from around the world gathered in Moscow on Wednesday for the inaugural World Olympians Forum, a platform for discussion about the future of the Olympic movement. The 33-year-old Olympian had announced her retirement after winning the 2013 IAAF world championships in Moscow to give birth to her daughter. But the three-time Olympic medallist later announced she would come out of retirement if she had a chance at winning gold in Rio.

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Former British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson has been elected vice chairman of the British Olympic Association, putting him in line to succeed Sebastian Coe as president of the national body next year. Robertson, who replaces outgoing vice chairman David Hemery, had a high-profile role in the 2012 London Olympics as sports minister from 2010-2013.

Robertson says “this is a fantastic opportunity for me to build on the success of London 2012 and help the BOA deliver at future Olympic Games.” Coe, the middle-distance running great who led the organizing committee for the London Games, became BOA president in 2012. Since August, he has also been president of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Coe is expected to leave the BOA post sometime after next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

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Casey Wasserman, who is chairing Los Angeles bid committee for the 2024 Olympics, says that the event “has the ability to elevate the city almost unlike anything else,” and he defended the push to secure the games even as the region faces pressing problems with homelessness and education.

Speaking at the Future of Cities: Leading in LA summit on Monday, Wasserman said, “A city like LA can do a lot of things. Let’s be honest, if we don’t host the games, we have no opportunity to elevate this city. We have no opportunity to show the world what LA is. We have no opportunity to unite the city around a singular event.

And we still have those other problems.” Wasserman was among a number of civic, business and philanthropic leaders who spoke at the event, geared toward conversations about the city’s problems and how to ensure it has a vibrant future.

In September, the US Olympic Committee selected Los Angeles as the bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. The Games are currently budgeted to cost about $6 billion — including about $1.7 billion in money raised from the private sector that would finance an Olympic Village and renovations to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The budget currently projects a $161 million surplus, with revenue from ticket sales and sponsorships.

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