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Russia offers alternative to Western efforts to ‘politicize’ sport

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) can counteract attempts to undermine Olympic principles, Russia’s deputy prime minister said

Closer sporting ties among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will help build relations and combat Western efforts to “destroy” Olympic principles, according to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

Speaking at an SCO videoconference on Tuesday, Mishustin said “the strongest pressure from the collective West” had been applied to Russian sport in recent months because of the conflict in Ukraine.

Russian athletes have faced widespread bans from international competitions since Moscow began its military campaign in February – something which Mishustin said was contrary to the principle of sport remaining outside politics.

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“The SCO member states are unanimous that sports competitions should remain an effective and accessible tool for building trust and mutual understanding between peoples… Together we must fight any attempts to destroy the lofty principles of Olympism,” Mishustin said at an SCO Council of Heads of Government meeting, in comments shared by TASS.

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Russia held the Moscow Rhythmic Gymnastics Grand Prix on February 18 © Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Russia talks up new sporting ties

Last month at an SCO summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that the organization could set up a formal association of sports federations.

It was recently noted by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko that the collective population of the SCO nations numbers in the billions, providing a huge potential audience for sporting collaboration.

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Elsewhere, Russian officials have consistently talked up the idea of more competitions with members of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) nations.   

Mishustin said on Tuesday that a sports association within the SCO would serve to strengthen cooperation.

“It will bring together representatives of such structures of the states that are members of the SCO, BRICS, the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union) and the CIS, while being open to other participants,” said the Russian official.  

“Athletes from our countries will be able to demonstrate their achievements in a fair fight at major competitions. Moreover, the emphasis will be placed not only on professional, but first of all – for mass sports.”

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Kazan will be the venue for the competitions.
Russia outlines plans for latest ‘Friendship Games’

In a joint communique issued after Tuesday’s meeting, the SCO said that it would work towards boosting relations “in the field of physical culture and sport.”

“[Participants] noted the proposal of the Russian Federation to create an Association of Sports Organizations under the auspices of the SCO and establish a Working Group on Physical Culture and Sports within the framework of this Meeting,” the statement added.

The SCO was founded in 2001 as an economic integration and trust-building alliance, and is now the world’s largest regional bloc.

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It currently brings together China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan, while four observer states – Afghanistan, Mongolia, Belarus, and Iran – are seeking to become full-fledged members.

Last month, Turkey stated its intentions to join, while Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are currently recognized as special ‘dialogue partners’ of the group. The SCO launched the process for granting the same status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia back in September 2021.

https://ift.tt/LHtTquF 01, 2022 at 05:51PM
from RT – Daily news

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