LAUSANNE: An old rivalry has been revived with Marius Vizer opposing a potential blanket Olympic ban on Russia being considered by IOC president Thomas Bach writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Last year Vizer, president of the International Judo Federation, raised a storm within the Olympic movement by railing at Bach and the International Olympic Committee over a host of issues including the Agenda 2020 process and the Olympic television channel plan.
Vizer was then president of SportAccord and chose the annual convention for his attack. The timing and place of his comments provoked a powerful backlash which forced him to quit his role at the head of the associations’ organisation.
Now Vizer has returned to the fray in the wake of the Russian doping and cover-up scandal. His IJF is one of a number of sports opposed to the concept of a blanket ban on Russia from the Rio Games next month.
This became a distinct possibility yesterday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected an appeal by 68 Russian track and field athletes against an international ban imposed by the world athletics federation, the IAAF, over the doping controversy.
However Vizer, in an IJF statement, said: “We would like to express our support for all the Russian athletes who were not involved in doping activities.
“We support all these clean athletes and we hope that they will be present in the Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro 2016.
“From a judo perspective, the presence of Russian athletes is very important, as the Russian Judo Federation is a prominent member of the International Judo Federation, with a notable contribution to the development of judo, Russian judo playing a great role in the history of our sport.
“We believe that the Olympic Games should give a message of unity and solidarity, to all the athletes and all the people of the world.
“We hope that by allowing participation of Russian athletes in Rio 2016, we will send out a positive message to all the young people who deserve to be given examples of friendship instead of examples of Cold War.”
The executive board of the IOC is due to take a definitive decision concerning Russian participation in Rio at an emergency meeting on Sunday.