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IOC Allows Palestinians to Compete in Olympics After Criticism of Double Standards

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) logo is seen on the door at a meeting of the IOC Executive Board at a hotel in London, prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 21, 2012

John MilesThe Europe-based International Olympic Committee has long been criticized for its lack of neutrality, submitting to Western leaders’ foreign policy prerogatives while unfairly punishing Russia.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced it would allow Palestinian athletes to compete in this summer’s Olympic games after months of criticism over the organization’s alleged double standards regarding wars in Gaza and the Donbass.IOC head Thomas Bach claimed representatives of Palestine would be invited to the event regardless of the outcome of ongoing qualification competitions. So far Palestinian taekwondo fighter Omar Ismail has earned a slot at the games. Six to eight Palestinians in total are expected to compete, according to Bach.“We have made the clear commitment that even if no athlete [from Palestine] would qualify on the field of play… then the National Olympic Committee of Palestine would benefit from invitations, like other national Olympic Committees,” said Bach.Palestinian athletes have only been allowed to compete at Olympic games since 1996 despite most global countries recognizing Palestinian statehood.Israel’s devastation of Gaza since Hamas’ October 7 surprise attack last year has led to the destruction of sporting facilities in the enclave as well as the death of high-profile Palestinian athletes. Volleyball star Ibrahim Qusaya and Olympic football coach Hani Al-Masdar have been killed by IDF airstrikes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is accused of indifference to civilian life.WorldPalestinian Rescuers Find Signs of Organ Harvesting in Khan Yunis Mass Graves – Reports26 April, 10:12 GMTThe killings form part of a pattern of what critics allege is Israel’s deliberate targeting of prominent Palestinian intellectual, professional, and cultural figures. Well-known poet Refaat Areer was killed in a strike on his home in Gaza last year after voicing criticism of Israel’s military conduct in the territory. Areer reported receiving numerous harassing messages from Israeli soldiers online after being attacked by neoconservative pundit Bari Weiss on the X social media platform.“Refaat Areer’s tragic death is not an isolated incident in this round of fighting: it occurred alongside several other intellectuals, including scientists like the Islamic University of Gaza’s president, Professor Sofian Tayeh; doctors like Omar Ferwana and his daughter Aya; and artists like Ali Nasman, whose loss has left a significant void in Gazan society,” said Mohammed Ali, a reporter in Gaza who wrote under a pseudonym to protect his identity as Israel is accused of deliberately targeting dozens of journalists reporting from the enclave.“Throughout history, Israel has time and again targeted Palestinian intellectuals, artists and cultural figures, often aimed at silencing the voices that articulate and embody the Palestinian struggle for identity and freedom,” he added. “By targeting these influential figures, there is not only immediate grief and loss suffered by their communities but also a long-term impact on Palestinian cultural expression and the transmission of its historical narrative.”Bach’s announcement signals a concession towards protest over the IOC’s alleged double standards in its treatment of various countries’ Olympic teams. The organization has been heavily criticized for its treatment of Russian athletes after Moscow launched a special military operation in the Donbass region in 2022.WorldIOC Recommends to Allow Russians to Compete as Neutral Athletes, But Not If They Support Russia29 March 2023, 01:09 GMTRussian athletes were banned from competing under Russia’s flag in this year’s Olympic games after the escalation of the long running conflict in Ukraine. The athletes are also required to have never made public statements supporting Russia’s military effort and must not be employed by the Russian armed forces or security services.Critics pointed out the Swiss-based organization hasn’t taken such measures against American athletes in the wake of US interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere, which have killed an estimated 4.5 million people. In recent months European activists have called for Israel to be penalized as the country’s military continues its operation in Gaza, which killed more civilians in one month than have fallen during two years of fighting in the Donbass.Bach’s announcement is the latest in a series of mostly symbolic concessions towards public outcry by prominent European figures, who have faced mass protest over European countries’ backing of Israel.Russia, meanwhile, has repeatedly urged a more even-handed approach to solving the long running Palestine-Israel conflict, with Moscow holding a meeting of Palestinian political factions earlier this year. Beijing also announced Friday it would hold Palestinian unity talks.AnalysisRussia’s Push for Palestinian State Can Help Stop Endless ‘Loop’ of Regional Violence18 January, 17:59 GMT“The main focus of efforts should be the creation of a Palestinian state in full compliance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in January. “Without the establishment of a Palestinian state, the Palestinian people will continue to feel disadvantaged and disenfranchised. Generation after generation of young Palestinians will feel this injustice and pass it on to their children.”“The situation is very bad,” he added recently. “We want an end to the violence, a solution to the humanitarian problems, and above all, we want the Arab [states] to take the initiative, with the support of all reasonable forces, to take the issue of the establishment of a Palestinian state into their own hands.”

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