There is a risk that even if Russia is returned, other countries will refuse to speak with it.
A grandiose intrigue has appeared in Russian cross-country skiing. Despite all the sanctions and prohibitions, our athletes can theoretically be returned to the World Cup and the World Championship. At least, this was hinted at by the Secretary General of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Michel Vion.
“At the moment, the rules apply to Russia and Belarus. It looks like the president IOC Thomas Bach begins to think. He has held meetings with international federations and is more or less starting to open doors again. Sports should be independent of politics.
This will take several weeks or months. But the idea of opening the door for Russia and Belarus is starting to emerge. This is not about competitions in Russia, but about participating in events FIS and stages of the World Cups. But FIS will definitely not make this decision without a clear recommendation IOC. In other words, we are united in this, and in sports we must act in unison. FIS awaiting clear advice from the IOC.”
Of course, in Russia and in the world this statement caused a polar reaction.
“It’s better to be surprised than disappointed”
In Russia, Vion’s words were received positively, because this is a step towards a real return to the World Cup stages. Head of the Russian Ski Racing Federation (FLGR) Elena Vyalbe admitted that it gives hope for the best.
“Yes, of course, this is a good sign. Even if we go only to the World Cup, I think it will be very good. We do not distance ourselves from anyone and do not close ourselves. Hope for the best should always be, you should always think only about the good. We communicate with the international federation and on September 27 we fly to a meeting in Zurich, ”Vyalbe told RIA Novosti Sport.
A similar opinion was expressed by the head coach of the Russian national team Yuri Borodavko.
“The fact that they are discussing this issue is already good. I can’t say that our chances from this discussion increase dramatically, there is no positive mood after this discussion, – Borodavko said in an interview with Chempionat. – Still FIS is a public organization, and all issues are decided by voting. Knowing the political situation in the world, knowing the attitude of various federations towards our country, towards our athletes, I have no particular illusions. If a positive decision is made, I will be happy. I have a principle – it is better to be surprised than disappointed.
And here is a well-known commentator Dmitry Guberniev spoke not too optimistically about the words of Vion, even called them lies.
“The International Ski Federation is not considering the possibility of admitting Russians, this is a lie! This is a good mine in a bad game. The key phrase is a reference to the IOC. Let’s be realistic. No one will let us ski, we will not go to Planica. We need to relax and hold competitions inside Russia. There are no prerequisites for us to be allowed to ski. I don’t understand why everyone is so excited. You need to open the window, somehow look at the world. People who seriously talk about being allowed in, from my point of view, are either asleep or just stupid.”
And what do foreign federations think about it?
Unlike the Russians, they are definitely not enthusiastic about the idea of our athletes returning to the World Cup. The President of the Norwegian Ski Federation, Tove Mo Dürhaug, said that she did not consider it possible for Russian skiers to be admitted to international starts.
“We do not know anything about this, and I expect to receive more information from the FIS. I don’t see the situation changing after the decision to suspend the Russian athletes,” said Dürhaug Nettavisen.
By the way, Norwegian journalist Jan Petter Saldvedt, in a text for NRK, expressed his conviction that even if Russian athletes are allowed to participate in international tournaments, Norwegians will not have to compete there so as not to be near athletes related to the Russian armed forces.
The Swedes spoke out harshly. The head of the Swedish Ski Federation, Karin Mattsson, is convinced that Vion should not have expressed such an opinion.
“Our position is that this is unthinkable at the moment. We do not understand why the Secretary General of the International Ski Federation said so. We have the exact opposite opinion,” Mattsson said in an interview with Expressen. “Of course, we should listen to what he really means and say what we think about it. Vion says they will follow the position IOCand I cannot imagine that this body would be of the same opinion. So I don’t think we need to worry, but still, he shouldn’t have said that. This gives rise to frustration and confusion. The Nordic countries and the rest of the skiing world will probably react the same way we did.”
Another skiing power, Finland, also did not support the possible return of Russian athletes to the international arena. Chairman of the Finnish Ski Federation Markku Haapasalmi is sure that sport cannot be considered separately from other areas of society.
“The position of the Finnish Ski Federation regarding the permission of Russian athletes to return to the starts is categorically no. The reasons that led to the expulsion have not disappeared, so it is unlikely that mitigation can be expected. While Russia is conducting a special military operation in Ukraine (the wording has been changed in accordance with the official position of the Russian Federation), we do not see it possible for Russian athletes to participate in competitive activities. Sport cannot be seen as a separate part of society,” Haapasalmi said in a statement on the official website of the Finnish Ski Federation.
The dissatisfaction of other federations will obviously be taken into account when considering the return of the Russians. However, the discussion about all this may end as soon as it begins. Now it’s up to the IOC.