A week after the Russian invasion in the Ukraine, world sport led by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has largely cut ties with the aggressors Russia and Belarus. Under great public pressure, the IOC gave direction in a statement on 28 February. A few hours later, the two federations with the highest turnover in the Olympic business besides the IOC acted: the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Both excluded Russian teams from their competitions.
At the same time, in the middle of a war, UEFA terminated the sponsorship agreement with its long-time partner Gazprom. While the IOC decisions affect Russia and Belarus, FIFA and UEFA exempt Belarus from the sanctions.
This came a week after the first of so far five sanctions packages by the European Union – and two days after the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports and the The National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark called for Russia and Belarus to be completely excluded from sports. Two days feel like two months in times of war, when events are overlapping. Two days are half an eternity.
Only a few hours before the IOC declaration, the leaders of one of the most important National Olympic Committees, the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), responded to the demands for Russia’s exclusion by saying that they would sound out the situation, wait and discuss it „in the coming weeks“.
One night later, almost simultaneously with the publication of the IOC statement, the DOSB declared in only a very few lines that they demanded the exclusion of the two warring nations.
This is how Olympic opportunism works.