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Russia, sidelined from world events, plans pre-Olympics games with South Africa, Brazil and others

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South African president Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at Pulkovo International Airport to attend the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia July 26, 2023 Jairus Mmutle/GCIS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY./File Photo

Russia, sidelined from many international sports events over the war in Ukraine, said on Thursday it would organise a competition next year for members of the BRICS alliance – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Speaking at the Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said athletes from BRICS countries would be invited to take part in the event in the southwestern Russian city of Kazan next June.

“We are developing new types of competitions,” RIA news agency quoted him as saying. “I stress again: we are not creating an alternative to the Olympic Games and so on. We are a self-sufficient country.”

The BRICS Games, which Matytsin said would feature 25 disciplines, will take place just a month before the start of the Olympics in Paris.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in March issued a set of recommendations for international sports federations to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return as neutrals after they were banned in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year

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The IOC has yet to take a final decision on those athletes’ participation at the Paris Games, but IOC President Thomas Bach has said that they should not be punished for their governments’ actions.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus have been allowed to compete as neutrals at the Hangzhou Asian Games in China to help them earn points to qualify for the Paris Olympics, angering some countries that think they should not be granted a pathway to the Games.

Russian authorities argue that it is discriminatory to ban the country’s athletes from the Games and deprive them of their national symbols such as their flag or anthem.

Matytsin had previously announced Russia’s plans to relaunch the multi-sport World Friendship Games next autumn.

Those competitions were first organised in 1984 in the Soviet Union and eight other socialist states that boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

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-Reuters

 

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Olympics

Djokovic confirmed for Paris Olympics

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French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 3, 2024 Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his fourth round match against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Novak Djokovic will compete at this year’s Olympic Games in Paris, the Olympic Committee of Serbia has announced.

The 24-times Grand Slam winner will be attending his fifth Olympics since his first in 2008 when he won a bronze medal.

The 37-year-old had knee surgery last month after he was forced to pull out of the French Open with an injury sustained in a fourth-round win that cast doubt over his chances of playing at Wimbledon and at the Paris Games.

World number three Djokovic will look to end his title drought in 2024 after winning three out of the four Grand Slams last year as he chases an elusive Olympic gold medal at the Paris Games in which Spain’s Rafa Nadal will also compete.

Dusan Lajovic, ranked 56th, will also play for Serbia in the July 27-Aug. 4 Olympic tournament at Roland Garros.

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-Reuters

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Mbappe rules out playing at Paris Games after Real Madrid move

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Kylian Mbappe confirmed on Sunday he will not play for France’s Olympic team at the Paris Games as his new club Real Madrid are against the idea.

The 25-year-old said in March that he was keen on playing at his home Games but since the Olympic soccer tournament is not on FIFA’s calendar clubs are not obliged to release their players.

Mbappe was not included in a 25-man preliminary squad for the Olympics earlier this month, though head coach Thierry Henry left the door open.

“My club’s position was very clear, so from that moment on, I think I (knew) I won’t be taking part in the Games,” Mbappe told reporters ahead of Monday’s Group D match against Austria at Euro 2024.

“That’s just the way it is, and I understand that too. I’m joining a new team in September, so it’s not the best way to start an adventure.

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“I’m going to wish this French team all the best. I’m going to watch every game. I hope they’ll win the gold medal.”

The men’s Olympic football competition begins on July 24, 10 days after the European Championships final, and ends on Aug. 9.

-Reuters

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Messi says he won’t play for Argentina at Paris Games

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Lionel Messi said he will not be part of Argentina’s squad for the Paris Olympics as he is no longer at an age where he can play in every tournament.

The 36-year-old Inter Miami forward is currently preparing for Argentina’s Copa America title defence, which runs from June 20 to July 14 in the United States.

In February, under-23 manager Javier Mascherano said Messi, who won gold with Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, had an invitation to join the squad for Paris.

“I talked to Mascherano and the truth is we both understood the situation,” Messi told ESPN.

“It’s hard (to think about the Olympics right now) because we’re in Copa America. It would be two, three straight months of not being with the club, and more than anything I’m not at an age to be in everything.

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“I have to choose carefully, and it would be too much to play two straight tournaments. I’ve been very lucky to play in the Olympics, of winning it together with (Mascherano).

“It was a wonderful experience on a football level. Olympics, U20, memories I’ll never forget.”

The men’s football tournament at the Olympics takes place in July and August. Teams are allowed three overage players in their squads.

-Reuters

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