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IOC president Thomas Bach speaks out against political boycotts

Thomas Bach, Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attend the World Olympians Forum in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)


MOSCOW (AP) -- IOC President Thomas Bach spoke out again Wednesday against political boycotts, citing his own “burning” frustration as an athlete over missing the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Bach spoke in Moscow at the opening of the World Olympians Forum. Russian President Vladimir Putin also spoke, calling for a U.N. resolution on the “de-politicization” of sports.

Bach recalled that he had been a “young athlete brimming with confidence” after winning a team gold medal in fencing for West Germany at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

But he said he was left “burning with frustration” after West Germany followed the U.S. call to boycott the Moscow Games over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

“I knew if world leaders had listened to athletes, then that boycott never would have happened,” Bach said. “After we lost this fight against (the) boycott, I decided to come into sports administration to make sure future generations would not have to suffer and to ensure the autonomy of sport.”

Bach said boycotts “are simply a form of discrimination, which is against the Olympic Charter.”

In retaliation for the U.S. boycott, the Soviet Union led its own boycott of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

“We have come a long way since then,” Bach said.

Some politicians had called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, after Russia enacted a law prohibiting gay “propaganda.”

Bach said the Sochi Games “achieved the vision of creating a world-class winter sports destination and putting Sochi on the global sports calendar.”

Putin, meanwhile, noted that the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution last year aimed at protecting the autonomy of sports.

“We think it is important to draft and adopt a U.N. General Assembly resolution that would definitely enshrine in international law the principle of sport’s de-politicization,” he said.

The Moscow forum was attended by more than 150 Olympians from 120 countries.

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