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Olympics-Russia steps up attack on IOC chief Bach

Published 04/03/2024, 07:02 AM
Updated 04/03/2024, 09:46 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends the opening of the Executive Board meeting at the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 19, 2024. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Wednesday of discrediting international sport and contradicting the principles of the Olympic movement.

At her weekly briefing, Zakharova also repeated her call for an inquiry into Bach's actions.

Bach was tricked into holding a conversation with Russian pranksters, published on Tuesday, in which he said the IOC had asked Ukraine to provide it with information on Russian athletes and officials as part of a monitoring process.

This was to make sure that no athletes who had made political statements in support of their government could take part in this year's Paris Olympics.

Zakharova said this amounted to a "conspiracy" between the IOC and Ukraine to exclude strong Russian athletes from the Games.

"All this demands deep, thorough analysis, study and investigation. Because people like Thomas Bach discredit world sport, they discredit the Olympic movement," she told reporters.

Relations between Russia and the IOC have worsened in the run-up to the Paris Olympics, starting on July 26 where Russian and Belarusian athletes will compete as neutrals, without their flags and anthems, and be excluded from the opening parade.

They were initially banned from competing internationally following Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation".

Believing he was speaking to an African sports official, Bach also said in the hoax call that he would be very grateful for help in limiting African participation at a multi-sport Friendship Games that Russia plans to host this year.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends the opening of the Executive Board meeting at the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 19, 2024. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The IOC said last month that Russia's plan to hold "purely politically motivated sports events" violated the principles of the Olympic charter and countries should not take part in them.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Bach's attitude towards Russia's plans to host international sports events was "unacceptable" and the IOC was damaging the Olympic movement by refusing to dissociate itself from politics.

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