Georgia is preparing for the Olympics

Georgia is preparing for the Olympics
 

 

Author: Georgi Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi, exclusively to VK



The Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Georgia recommended the NOC make a decision on participation of Georgian athletes in the 2014 Olympics. The plenary session of the NOC will be held on May 2, a few days before the deadline for submission of applications to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Prior to last year's parliamentary elections and the change of power in the country, President Saakashvili and his supporters repeatedly hinted that the Georgian athletes would not go to Sochi. Sports in Georgia were generously financed by the state budget, and the majority of sports federations were headed by former government ministers and representatives of the president's party. Therefore, there was no doubt that a formal decision on the boycott would be accepted. Saakashvili's team was just waiting for the right moment, postponing the inevitable conflict with the IOC.

The fact that the IOC after the "Cold War" and the 1988 Games in Seoul adopted strict rules about political motives in sport. Any boycott, especially from a small Georgia, could run into a harsh condemnation and even suspension of membership in the international Olympic community. The only question is how severely Georgia could be sanctioned. Sources in sporting circles in private talks did not exclude that in the case of a boycott, Georgia could be banned from participation in the next Winter Olympics. But the threat was unlikely to stop the ruling team, especially since the athletes from Georgia never achieved much success in winter sports. But most importantly, the boycott of the Sochi 2014 fully fitted the mainstream of the foreign policy of Saakashvili and his intransigence to the realities after a five-day war in 2008.

The new Georgian authorities also consider Russia to be an "occupant which captured 20% of the territory of Georgia." Such an approach is stated in a resolution on the permanence of the foreign policy, which was recently approved unanimously by the Parliament. But the new government chose several different tactics in relations with Moscow. It may be called "tactics of friendly gestures." One of these gestures is the readiness to participate in the 2014 Olympics.

However,as recent talks in Prague between special representative of Prime Minister on the normalization of relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin have shown, Ivanishvili’s cabinet seriously fears of image problems that can wag on the internal balance of power. For example, Abashidze insisted on guarantees of non-participation in the Games of the athletes from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It's not about the participation of the Abkhaz and South Ossetian teams but about the athletes acting under the flag of the Russian team. According to Georgian law, they are still considered citizens of Georgia. Reaching a compromise on this issue is unlikely.

The correspondent of VK asked the Georgian politicians from different political groups about the prospects of Georgia's participation in the Sochi Olympics.

MP of the United National Movement, David Darchiashvili

Participation or non-participation should be determined not by the politicians, not by the authorities, but by the sporting community, including the Olympic committee. The government should not do it directly and specify what to do and what decisions to take. For example, being an athlete, I would have refused to participate in this competition, not going to Sochi, despite all the arguments that "sport and politics should be separated from each other." It is very simple and clear - Russia is occupying parts of Georgia, grossly violates international law and the sovereign rights of our country. And the games will take place in the immediate vicinity of the occupied Abkhazia, where ethnic cleansing of Georgian population was carried out.

The former head of the parliamentary committee for relations with the peoples of the North Caucasus, Nugzar Tsiklauri

How can we participate in the Games, which take place on the site of the last battle of the Caucasian War? The Parliament of Georgia recognized these events as "genocide of Circassians." In addition, for the construction of Olympic facilities the nature of Abkhazia where inert materials were taken was destroyed.

One of the leaders of the ruling coalition "Georgian Dream", Levan Berdzenishvili

I think, the NOC will decide on participation in the Sochi Olympics. The political decision to that effect has been made. Georgia will probably participate in the Olympics. It would be strange not to participate. Sometimes people refer to the experience of the boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But the 1980 Olympics was boycotted by a group of countries. And no one else is going to boycott the Olympics in Sochi.

In general, for that matter in the country there are two different approaches. The previous government's approach - "we do not participate, we protest." But though this is a sport event and not a political event, we need to show a high political class. It was typical for all the people who lived before Christ, when the ancient Greeks stopped the war to participate in Olympic competition.

Georgia has a few athletes in winter sports. We have practically no chance of medals in Sochi, but still have to participate. What does the non-participation in the Olympic Games give us? It's nothing. But participating in the Games, we will show that Georgia is a decent country that respects itself and others. In addition, we show that we are not afraid to go to Sochi and compete with the best athletes. Claims to Russia may be expressed by various states. But everyone goes to Sochi knowing that non-participation would be incomprehensible and inexplicable. Therefore, I personally do not see anything dramatic in the upcoming decision of the Georgian NOC.

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