What you need to know:
- The IOC stripped Russia of its IOC membership last month following Moscow’s decision to claim regional sports organisations in occupied areas of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.
- The IOC said these areas should be under Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee.
- But the Moscow organisers maintain they are not fighting the IOC by organising the lucrative “Friendship Games.”
Africa’s Olympic committees are cautiously approaching Russia’s Friendship Games scheduled to take place in Moscow and Yekaterinburg from September 15 to 29 next year.
Russia’s International Boxing Association (IBA) President Umar Kremlev is among the chief architects of the games that will feature 27 sports and cost about Sh17 billion, attracting about 10,000 athletes from over 137 nations with Sh9.4 billion set aside for prize money.
Most Olympic officials from Africa say they await direction from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“We are being guided by the IOC position on the matter, which is that these games are being put together from a political angle, which is the same argument that Russia is using against the IOC,” National Olympic Committee of Kenya Secretary-General Francis Mutuku yesterday said.
Moses Muhangi, President of the Uganda Boxing Federation, on the other hand, welcomes the Moscow games, arguing that it would be interesting to see what Russia has to offer in prize money at the games.
“This will be a big step for Russia to offer the world another version of Olympics,” he said as Botswana Boxing Association Secretary-General Taolo Tlouetsile described the games as “a good development.”
“Given the (games’) timing coming after the Paris Olympics, not many governments will afford to send teams but the allure of prize money might be hard to resist for some of them,” said Tlouetsile.
Guinea Boxing Federation President Alpha Amadou Balde said his country would follow IOC’s guidance.
Besides prize money, winners at the Friendship Games have been promised “solid gold” medals for victory in the Russian capital.
But James MacLeod, IOC’s Director of the Department of Relations with National Olympic Committees, said last week the Moscow action goes against their ban on Russian sport.
The IOC stripped Russia of its IOC membership last month following Moscow’s decision to claim regional sports organisations in occupied areas of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.
The IOC said these areas should be under Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee.
But the Moscow organisers maintain they are not fighting the IOC by organising the lucrative “Friendship Games.”