Secretary General of the International Skiing and Snowboarding Federation (FIS), Michel Vion, recent statements may indicate that Russian athletes will be invited back into the heat.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, athletes from Russia and Belarus were banned by the FIS on the eve of the 2021/22 season.
– At the moment there are rules and penalties against Russia and Belarus. It looks like Thomas Bach (IOC president) is starting to think and has had meetings with the international federations, and is more or less starting to open the doors again. Sport should be independent of politics, Vion said at the Forum Nordicum conference in Planica, writes VG, which reproduces the German newspaper Bild.
TV 2’s cross-country expert, Petter Skinstad, reacts strongly to the statement from the FIS summit.
TV 2 Sport’s cross-country expert Petter Skinstad. Photo: Olof Andersson / TV 2
– For me, it is completely incomprehensible that there is any discussion at all about Russia and Belarus as nations being allowed to participate in any sports competition as long as the Russian invasion of Ukraine is ongoing. When talking about war, the killing of innocent people, torture, mass graves and rapes and millions of people on the run, TV figures, market interests and ski races become totally uninteresting, he says to ABC News.
Skinstad asks the FIS leaders to familiarize themselves with the situation in Ukraine.
– I am incredibly disappointed that Michel Vion and the FIS can make such a statement at this time, and I would recommend both he and others in the FIS to familiarize themselves with the situation in Ukraine now. Would they want to invite a warring nation to a party if it was their own families that had been killed?
Right-wing politician: – What on earth?
Vion says that the FIS will certainly not make the decision without a clear recommendation from the International Olympic Committee.
– It will take a few weeks or months. But the idea of opening the door to Russia and Belarus is starting to come. We are not talking about competitions in Russia, but participation in FIS events and the World Cup, said Vion.
Conservative politician Turid Kristensen also reacts strongly to the FIS summit’s statement.
– What on earth is it that makes the IOC and FIS now consider that the situation is different, and that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be able to participate in international competitions again, asks Kristensen to NTB.
– It is rather the opposite. Russia escalates the war, to condemnation from the international community. I hope Norwegian sports are crystal clear that this is completely out of the question, she continues.
FIS board member Erik Røste is surprised by FIS top Michel Vion’s statements about returning to Russia this winter.
– This is unknown to me. In the board meeting in July, the ban was confirmed. That’s how I rate it, nothing has changed since then. Putin’s speech yesterday gave no hope of an immediate end to the brutal attack on Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. New board meeting at the end of October, writes Røste in an SMS to NTB.
– Downright immoral
Sports manager for jumping in the Norwegian Ski Association, Clas Brede Bråthen, also reacts to Vion’s statement.
– We have been clear from day one: It is downright immoral and there are no good arguments for Russians to be allowed to participate when they attack another country, in one of the worst attacks we have seen in Europe, says Bråthen to VG.
Clas Brede Bråthen during a meeting with the show jumping team in Holmenkollen. Photo: Javad Parsa / NTB
– It is completely incomprehensible. I hope there are people above him (Vion) in the system who can put their foot down. We in skiing cannot just ignore people being attacked and having their lives destroyed. I don’t buy one argument for Russian athletes to be allowed to participate, Bråthen continues and adds:
In the winter, the WC in Nordic disciplines (cross-country skiing, combined and jumping) will be held in Planica.
Recently, the Congress of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) decided to maintain the ban on Russians and Belarusians. It has previously been announced that the FIS board will probably decide on the issue on 22 October.