Oleg Matytsin: “Friendship Games are no alternative to other competitions”

Russia has never positioned the Friendship Games as an alternative to other competitions, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said. Earlier, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent a letter to the National Olympic Committees recommending that they refuse to participate in the Friendship Games. On June 22, IOC head Thomas Bach said that Russia was trying to organize "politicized sports competitions."

"The first global project will be the Games of the Future in Kazan. Kazan will also host the BRICS Games in open format in June, and the last big project in Russia will be the Friendship Games. We do not consider and have never positioned the first, the second or the third event as some kind of alternative to something else," Matytsin said during a Rossiya-24 TV broadcast. "They are independent new projects. They are aimed at creating a competitive environment here that will allow Russian athletes to participate in competitions on an international level, something that has been hindered by some international federations and the International Olympic Committee," the official pointed out.

"But we do not need to prove anything to anyone," the sports minister stressed. "We have set the standards for major projects. Russia has hosted the World Cup in football, athletics and aquatics, two FISU World University Games, the Sochi Olympics. I think everyone understands that Russia is a powerful and very reliable partner in the world of sports, and when we initiate something, we always act not against anyone, but in favor of it. For development," Matytsin emphasized.

Oleg Matytsin stated that the IOC and WADA are exerting pressure on independent sports organizations. Earlier, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Witold Bańka, threatened consequences for participants in the Friendship Games in Russia. "Sport is a platform for open dialogue, so it is strange to hear calls from the IOC and WADA to restrict Russian initiatives. Russia has always adhered to the true principles of sports.”, the official pointed out in sports.ru.

”During unjustified sanctions, we did not oppose anyone but created additional conditions for Russian and Belarusian athletes, as well as all countries that want to improve results in fair sports competition, thereby strengthening, not destroying the unity of world sports. To a large extent, it is the IOC that initiated the process of politicizing world sports when it directed recommendations to federations to limit the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international tournaments.”, Matytsin emphasized.

According to Oleg Matytsin,”the IOC and WADA continue to exert pressure on independent international and national sports organizations, trying to maintain a monopoly in managing world sports. This fundamentally contradicts the values of the global sports family - equal treatment of all its members, freedom of choice, protection of the interests of athletes, and the unwavering observance of their rights to participate in competitions," said the Russian Minister of Sports.

"Every country has the right to develop sports. Russia's initiated competitions - the BRICS Games, the Games of the Future, the World Friendship Games - do not violate the international calendar; they are aimed at creating conditions for fair competition, which is a fundamental principle of sports development. We will be happy to welcome athletes from around the world at all our tournaments," Matytsin added.