Question: Soviet and Russian sports have played a major role in the development of sports worldwide. But now Russia has been banned from the Olympic Games. Can you comment on this?
Maria Zakharova: Comments on this issue have been made and will be made by specific agencies that are responsible for this area. President of Russia Vladimir Putin recently made a statement on this issue. I can answer your question with a phrase I recently found online. It was written by Paul Craig Roberts, a prominent American, an economist and political and economic commentator for many national US media outlets. Many of you know about him.
Mr Roberts is a Republican and the former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan administration – you might remember that it was a difficult period. He was a Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, an associate editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week, The Washington Times and many other media outlets.
On July 17 he wrote an article, which Global Research published on July 19. He writes: “We could conclude that Washington wants hegemony in sports just as it does in foreign affairs and wants Russian athletes out of the way so that Americans can win more medals. (...) The ‘doping scandal’ is part of Washington’s ongoing effort to isolate Russia and to build opposition to Putin inside Russia.”
Mr Roberts made a large, and possibly the largest part of his career during the Cold War, so he knows what he’s talking about. I doubt that anyone could have put it better.
There is a phrase which I considered funny and trite in the past – “Oh Sport, You Are Peace!” I see now that we were wrong to use it as sarcasm or a joke. The Olympic Games and the many other competitions that developed from them and are the same in form and spirit are a good example of this phrase. In ancient times, the Olympic Games were held to demonstrate the physical abilities of man. Conflicts and wars were suspended for their duration. The conflicting sides found the moral strength to forget about their differences for the duration of the games, which could be described as a “human water truce”. This logic underlies the Olympic movement and permeates the international documents on sports and the international efforts of the countries involved. This logic also forms the basis of Russia’s policy in this area.
The only issue on which I disagree with Mr Roberts is that the current developments are a blow not only to Russia but to global sports as such. This is a blow to the logic of temporary truce and reprieve, at our ability to show that despite the differences between countries, or even military conflicts, there are areas where we can fight honestly and as equals, demonstrating our abilities in sport.
What’s happening now, including in Washington, is a crime. There is a legal term, “crimes against humanity”. What the architects of this campaign are doing now is a new type of crime that I would describe as a crime against sport. The consequences of this campaign should be thoroughly analysed. I tell those who stand behind this campaign: You did not consider the possible consequences of your military strikes and interventions, and you can see the results. Your intervention in Iraq created a vacuum for the rise of ISIS. You are now delivering a major blow to the Olympic movement and sport. Are you aware of the possible consequences of this action?
And one more thing: You can make history by acting honourably and working positively and constructively, which is difficult. Or you can make history by bringing about destruction, which is much simpler. Unfortunately, many people take pride in making history by destroying it.