The secret technique to stop the war in Ukraine ~Russian athletes' parade during the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) held its Executive Board meeting in Lausanne on 19 and 20 March 2024 and passed several important decisions on the eligibility of athletes for the forthcoming Paris Olympics. Among other things, it decided not to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to march in the opening ceremony. This surprised me personally.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and Belarus supported it. Breaking the Olympic truce, the IOC issued sanctions against Russia and Belarus, the gist of which was that athletes representing the countries concerned would not be allowed to participate in international competitions recognized by International Sport Federations.

Although there was a public debate about eligibility for the Paris Olympics with no sign of an end to the war, the IOC would offer Individual Neutral Athlete eligibility on the condition that Russian and Belarusian athletes could not represent their countries but would participate on an individual neutral basis. They are called Individual Neutral Athletes (AINs), and a new flag and anthem equivalent was also produced specifically for them. Nevertheless, they will not be allowed to participate in the parade of the delegation during the opening ceremony.

According to the IOC's explanation, the decision was "in line with the treatment of Independent Olympic Athletes at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics", when the Yugoslav Olympic Committee was under sanctions due to the Yugoslav conflict, and individual participation was allowed as a remedy for athlete participation.

The IOC EB’s decision has infuriated the Russian Government, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova reacting that it 'shows how far from the principles laid down by the IOC it has gone and how far it has fallen into racism and neo-Nazism'. It is common practice for Russia to condemn its opponents as neo-Nazis, but in this case, it seems reasonable to allow AINs to participate in the parade of the delegation in the Opening Ceremony, considering they are recognised as neutral athletes.

It was customary for independent Olympic participants to use the Olympic flag instead of the national flag and the Olympic anthem instead of the national anthem, since the AIN is given its own flag and anthem.

However, the opening ceremony of the forthcoming Paris Olympics must be a groundbreaking one in which athletes will participate in the parade of the delegation by entering the Seine River on boats, and it is worrying that the people of invaded Ukraine and those who are against Russia's invasion of Ukraine would not welcome the sunny sight of Russian and Belarusian athletes proudly boarding their boats.

The IOC was in a dilemma. It chose to follow precedent.

A subsidiary line, the Eligibility Code, can help to solve the problem. The Eligibility Code was a key word in the 1990 Olympic Charter. It was once referred to in the media as 'Rule 26'. At the time, it was a key clause in whether professional athletes could participate in the Olympic Games. But it also stipulated compliance with the Olympic Charter and the rules of the International Sport Federation to which the athlete belonged. On this basis, athletes had to sign a Declaration of Eligibility Code to enter in the Olympic Games.

The equivalent for today's entries is the Conditions of Participation. And in the same Conditions of Participation for the Paris Olympics, there is a clear statement of 'consent to the Olympic mission of peace', which was not present in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

I had proposed to the IOC when Russia broke the Olympic truce that the Eligibility Code be reinstated and that a statement of intent to 'oppose war' be included in it. That proposal was transformed into reality in the Paris Olympics eligibility clauses in obedience to 'the mission of the IOC and the Olympic Movement to promote peace'.

And this is a matter that Russian and Belarusian athletes participating in the Paris Olympics would also have to sign. Then they are clearly expressing their opposition to the war by Russia and Belarus that broke the Olympic truce, and it would be of special significance for such athletes to board the Olympic boats under the AIN flag.

The Russian Government should be duly informed of this, and during the parade the AINs of Russia and Belarus should proudly tell the world that they are warriors for peace who have taken up the Olympic mission. People will know that this is the role that the Olympic Movement should play.

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Russian nationalism has recently turned its fangs on the IOC. Criticism of President Bach in particular has become emotional according to IOC spokesperson Mark Adams.

Russia has stepped on the Olympism. Unless it realises its fundamental fallacy and frees sport from nationalism, it will not be able to participate in the Olympics as a country. This is because they cannot reach the idea of Olympism, which is to transcend the state while recognising the Nation.

That is why the IOC should take a firm stand and allow individual neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the parade of the opening ceremony, regardless of their nationality, as AIN athletes who have signed the Condition of Participation for Paris 2024. That would officially recognise them as ambassadors of peace.

That is one of the secret techniques to suspend the war in Ukraine.

(Honorifics omitted)

28 Mar 2024.

Ryoichi Kasuga