Sport is a kind of litmus test for the behavior of Russia or, rather, the Soviet Union towards the world – states and state entities, which were almost always an alternative, not to say a caricature. It was on his body that the Russians repeatedly tested the ability to create what they had always dreamed of – their own inner world.
Russia and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, to which the current Kremlin authorities clearly refer, had operated in such conditions for years. This is why the current situation in which Russian athletes are thrown out of many sporting events (although not all, the opposite example is tennis for example), is no sensation for them and Russia itself. It’s happened before.
It is worth remembering that the Soviet Union decided not to continue the tradition of tsarist Russia, begun in Paris in 1900, to participate in the Olympic Games (by the way, also with the participation of Polish athletes like the horseman Karol Rómmel in 1912). The 1920 Olympics stopped for the same reasons as in the case of Poland – the Polish-Bolshevik war, but Soviet athletes were able to go to Paris in 1924. They could, if they hadn’t viewed the Olympics as a despicable civil party. They decided to boycott it, and throughout the interwar period we have not seen any USSR athletes in major competitions – neither the Olympics, nor the World Cup, nor any championship in individual disciplines.
However, it doesn’t stop there.
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Moscow decided that while it would not participate in civic sports, it did need sports rivalry. In 1928, the idea of Spartakiads, ie professions for the working people, arose in the USSR. Worker sports competitions for the oppressed of the bourgeois elite took as patron Spartacus – the leader of the slave revolt in ancient Rome.
We are not fully aware of the huge popularity of Spartakiads in the former USSR. They have completely replaced international rivalry and have become an important element in building an autonomous sports world in Russia.
When the rivalry resumed after World War II and became part of the building of world peace, the Soviet Union was invited to join it as the conqueror of the Third Reich. In 1947, the International Olympic Committee sent Moscow an invitation to participate in the first post-war London Olympics, but the USSR turned it down. He was still isolated, like Germany and Japan, from the rivalry. Only in 1952 the Soviet team first appeared in the world Olympic competition, including the summer games in Helsinki. In the winter event, it waited until 1956 and the Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Longer than Germany, taller than Japan.
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The Soviet Union became the power of world sports and was also responsible for many of its disruptions, including doping which was ubiquitous in its ranks and in many vassal countries. The award of the 1980 Games to Moscow was the result of a compromise between the IOC and the USSR and the US during a single session in 1974. He did so unknowingly that it would lead to the largest Olympic boycott in history.
The withdrawal of Western states from the 1980 Moscow Olympics was a result of Soviet aggression against Afghanistan at Christmas 1979. In a rematch, the USSR and its vassal Eastern Bloc withdrew from the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Moscow has also found a solution for this situation. She immediately launched the games and competitions to replace the competition with the rest of the world. As in the interwar period, internal competitions were also set up this time, in which Poland was also appointed. Polish athletes took part in the “Przyjaźń’84” games, which are an alternative to the Olympic competition in Los Angeles.
When in the period of Gorbachev’s “perestroika” there was a climate to resume sports rivalry between the USSR and the West, especially the US, Moscow adopted Ted Turner’s American idea of hosting the Goodwill Games. In 1986 they conducted their first edition in Moscow with a pump worthy of an Olympic competition. The USSR won 118 medals with it – three times (sic) more than the United States. This strange creation survived until the 1990s.
Now, after Russia has been thrown out of the sporting rivalry following the aggression in Ukraine, we are hearing about the thawing of the old concepts of hosting the games within the Commonwealth of Independent States. Hardly anyone remembers, but such games took place quite recently, in September. Kazan organized them. Ukraine, of course, did not participate in Kazan, for example Moldova, which is now threatened by Russian aggression, there were also Armenia and Azerbaijan (no more Georgia), Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan had strong teams.
Already after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, it was decided on March 24 that such games would be held in Minsk in 2023. For now, we have two willing participants – Russia and Belarus, but even this situation is in line with the current trend in Russia to create an autonomous sport, alternative competition and thus build an isolation, in which Russia has been for years. feels good.
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