Matvi Bidny, at the Ukrainian Ministry of Sports and Youth, in kyiv, November 27, 2023. OKSANA PARAFENIUK FOR “THE WORLD”
Since November 9, Matvi Bidny has been the new Ukrainian Minister of Sports and Youth, replacing Vadym Guttsait. In an interview with Le Monde, this 44-year-old bodybuilder affirms that Russian and Belarusian athletes, whose participation in the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games remains subject to the agreement – under conditions – of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), are and will be “used by the immense propaganda machine” of the Kremlin.
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How does the Russian invasion affect your athletes’ preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games?
We are under air attacks every night, these are not the best conditions for preparing for competitions. Above all, many of our athletes have people they love on the front lines and have lost loved ones. All this is not without consequences. As for training, we try to do it in Ukraine, we have a few places reserved for preparing for the Games. But it is very difficult to stay focused. Many athletes have gone to train abroad and the results are good. We hope there will be more.
Furthermore, our armed forces have in their ranks nearly three thousand athletes, coaches and sports employees. We must also take into account mobilization procedures. Tomorrow, for example, Ihor Nahaev, our best canoe-kayak coach, will have to join the battlefield. He is 57 years old, a child, and he has to go because the country needs him to fight against the war crimes of the Russian Federation. We lost almost four hundred athletes and coaches. We call them “the angels of sport”. Every day we lose the best of us.
How do you judge the IOC’s efforts since its March 28 recommendation to allow the return of Russians and Belarusians to international competitions, provided that they compete under a neutral banner and did not actively support the invasion? in Ukraine ?
Today we see a sort of flirtation with the aggressor country. We cannot forget that the Russians violated the Olympic truce in 2008 in Georgia. And then, as they hosted the 2014 Games [à Sotchi]they did it again in Ukraine, with Crimea [la Russie a également enfreint la trêve olympique avec l’offensive de février 2022, durant les jeux d’hiver à Pékin, motif de sa mise au ban du sport mondial]. The IOC and other sports organizations expect the Russian Federation to show respect, but it ignores all this, it makes fun of international rules and values, it makes fun of everything.
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