Russia responds after UK’s plan for athletes to ‘denounce Putin’

Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin has accused his UK counterpart of trying to destroy the world through sport by branding Russia a 'pariah' Read Full Article at RT.com

Russia responds after UK’s plan for athletes to ‘denounce Putin’
1 Apr, 2022 12:46 HomeSport News

Russia responds after UK’s plan for athletes to ‘denounce Putin’

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said branding his country a 'pariah' was unacceptable

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin has fired back at the UK government and accused them of trying to "destroy the world through sports" by branding Russia a "pariah." 

Matytsin's British counterpart Nigel Huddleston has said that UK government policy deems Russia "a pariah on the world stage when it comes to sport," and that it "should be treated as such" when discussing requirements for Russian athletes to compete in Britain.

Huddleston has also suggested any Russian athletes hoping to perform in the UK would have to sign a form denouncing any support for Vladimir Putin or financial links to the Russian leadership.  

READ MORE: UK wants athletes to sign form promising Putin does not back them

Speaking to R-Sport, Matytsin confirmed that he categorically does not "accept such a position."

"Sport should be an important part of the life of society, and the principles of sport – unity, respect for each other, for history, traditions – should be the main ones for politicians as well," Matytsin said. 

"Sport can and should teach politicians to take correct, principled positions, and not be guided by opportunistic interests. Especially when it is contrary to the Olympic Charter and the unity of sports.

"With such statements they destroy the world through sports. For a politician, a minister who is responsible for this industry, this is absolutely unacceptable," Matytsin concluded.

Russian athletes have been banned from a host of international competitions as a response to Moscow's military operation in Ukraine.

Huddleston claimed this week that individual athletes from Russia must prove they are "genuinely independent and neutral," with any assurance supported by a written declaration, leading to questions about the likes of tennis star Daniil Medvedev and his appearance at Wimbledon this year. 

"I have had a good meeting with various governing bodies about what we are doing in terms of sanctions and bans for individual athletes," Huddleston said.

"We did make the request to governing bodies relating to individual sports people that if they wish to participate in a UK sport, they are independent and neutral – and genuinely so.

"We wish to get the assurance of that in a written declaration that they are not receiving money from Putin, Russia or Belarus. That they will not be making supportive comments of Putin, Russia or Belarus.

"We are requesting governing bodies or individual events seek that assurance in advance if they are going to allow neutrals to play.

"If some individual sports or entities choose to do an outright ban of Russian or Belarussian athletes, then we will support that as well. But if they chose to go down the neutral route, then we are requesting they get that assurance," Huddleston added.

As a response to the sanctions, Russian political and sports leaders discussed at the 'We Are Together. Sport' forum in Moscow this week how local sports may drawn upon a Soviet-style approach where import substitution could be possible. 

"We will also follow the regulations established in sports, we will wait for relaxations [in sanctions], or we will focus on our own resources and, using Soviet experience, we will understand in which directions our sport should develop," Matytsin said.

"We will understand where our shortcomings were, and together with our partners we will develop a system which will set the standard for all sport. I think it's time to be more active, to shape our vision for the future of the community."

READ MORE: Sporting sanctions: How do Russia’s compare with other nations?