The ROC President summed up the meeting of the ROC Executive Committee and answered journalists’ questions.
— The main point of discussion at the Executive Committee was the preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Now there are qualifying competitions, and athletes perform quite well. The women’s handball team won the right to go to Japan, and the fencers got a full quota. In some other sports, the interrupted by the pandemic qualifying period is now coming to an end.
As you know, the Russian Olympic Committee’s flag has been approved for our delegation as the official flag for the Tokyo Games. The team will perform in Japan as the ROC Team. The IOC has also agreed on the uniforms’ design. On April 14, 100 days before the Olympic Games, the uniforms’ official presentation will take place.
The musical accompaniment for protocol events involving Russian athletes at the Games has not yet been completely resolved.
“Katyusha” was not accepted as an option when the International Olympic Committee requested clarification on this issue from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which interpreted its own decision broadly, ruling that the song is directly associated with Russia and it is not possible to use it.
Of course, we regret this decision. The ROC Executive Committee held further consultations in this regard. The Russian Skating Union and the Russian Figure Skating Federation agreed with the International Skating Union to use a fragment from Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 as a musical accompaniment for protocol events. Thus a precedent was set. And my colleagues and I agreed today to approve on our part this composition for use at the Tokyo Games. Now we will promptly turn to the IOC for its final approval.
Tchaikovsky is a great Russian composer, our compatriot. His First Concerto is also associated with Russia, but at the same time, Tchaikovsky’s work is an undeniable part of the world’s musical heritage. I suppose a compromise will be found here.
We paid a lot of attention to vaccinating members of the delegation. We assume that it is voluntary. But the practice of competitions during the pandemic shows that cases of infection among athletes do occur. We’ve already seen some teams not be able to go to the qualifiers because of this. The same situation is possible, for example, just before the Olympic Games start. Our task is to prevent it.
This is especially relevant in the context of the anti-covid protocol developed for the Tokyo Games. So if coronavirus is detected in one of the participants, people who have been in contact with him will be sent to quarantine if they have not been vaccinated. The athletes risk spending several days in isolation and missing the Olympic tournament without even getting sick.
Therefore, I recommend that all candidates for the Olympic team, coaches, and staff undergo the vaccination procedure organized by the Federal Medical and Biological Agency (FMBA): comfortably, without queues and complications.
Earlier, we had a series of online meetings with colleagues from national Olympic committees of other countries, one attended by IOC head Thomas Bach. The ROC has taken the initiative to
assist in the development of options for access to immunization with a Russian-made vaccine.
The Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation is actively involved in this process, and the necessary formalities at the governmental level
have almost been completed with some countries. I would like to point out that Russia today is one of the leaders not only in sports but also in the humanitarian sphere.
Unfortunately, the Tokyo Games will be held without foreign fans. The organizing committee guaranteed a refund of the money spent on the tickets. As an athlete who has participated in Olympic Games on different continents, I can say that even those few of our compatriots who made it to Atlanta or Sydney created a unique atmosphere, added strength, and motivation. Of course, our athletes will miss that in Japan.
In this regard, we are preparing to open fan zones for our fans. We very much hope that by July, the epidemiological situation will make it possible. One of the first of these sites we are preparing with our colleagues from Moskomsport. It will be in Luzhniki.
– The process of granting neutral status to Russian track and field athletes was recently resumed. What measures did the ROC take so that they could perform in Tokyo?
– Protecting the interests of clean athletes is a priority for the Russian Olympic Committee. Initially, WADA proposed to force all of our team members to prove that they had not been involved in doping incidents in the past, to take additional tests, and so on. The ROC’s lawyers and staff managed to defend our position and get all these humiliating and difficult procedures canceled.
As for track and field athletes, of course, the introduction of restrictions on the number of athletes who qualify for neutral status is fundamentally wrong. This is detrimental to the development of the sport in our country. However, we also need to be clear that to improve the situation as a whole; it is necessary to change the doping culture in athletics – when absolutely all athletes and coaches are guided by the principle of zero tolerance for prohibited drugs and methods. Besides, it is important to educate and train specialists in advanced, modern programs and technologies that completely eliminate the use of the aforementioned means.
Let me remind you that last year World Athletics completely suspended neutral status for Russians. We had so many scandals in athletics, and against that backdrop, the WA’s current decision can be seen as the first and significant step towards the restoration of the Russian Athletics Federation and the interests of Russian athletes. And, of course, we’re very excited about having track and field athletes on our Olympic team.