Russian government reportedly told Olympic athletes how to talk about BLM and other ‘provocative topics’
Harry Wilmerding, DCNF
Russian Olympic athletes have reportedly been instructed by the Kremlin on how to answer questions on Black Lives Matter and other sensitive topics, a Russian news outlet reported.
The athletes have been given specific instructions on what to say on topics like Crimea, harassment, the Black Lives Matter movement and doping abuse, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian news agency TASS on Wednesday.
“The Kremlin supports such an initiative, but it will be up to each individual athlete whether to use it or not,” Peskov said.
“Athletes are not politicians,” Peskov said, according to TASS. “Unfortunately, many people want to make politicians out of them and drag them into politics, they eventually get into complicated situations,” he added.
The China playbook: “A document prepared by the Russian Olympic Committee and distributed to the athletes reportedly directed them how to answer journalists’ “provocative” questions about political issues.” https://t.co/nXzYHURy0k
— Emily Feng 冯哲芸 (@EmilyZFeng) July 15, 2021
When asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, the guidelines encourage athletes to answer that opinions are an individual’s personal business but “the Olympics should not become a platform for any actions and gestures,” Russian news outlet Vedomosti reported, according to a translation reported by the Washington Post.
For questions on sexual harassment, the guidelines advise athletes to answer: “I’ve never encountered this in my career, but I know that this problem exists in many countries,” according to the Washington Post.
“Information spreads very quickly and any carless answer, which athletes can be skillfully ‘tricked’ into by specially trained people will then have an extremely negative impact,” the guidelines said, according to the Washington Post.
Russia will be competing in the Olympic Games under a neutral flag as a result of a doping scandal in 2015, according to the Washington Post.
The Black Lives Matter movement has already made a presence at the 2021 summer Olympics, according to the Washington Post.
U.S. track and field athlete Gwen Berry turned her back to the American and placed a t-shirt over her face during the national anthem at track and field trails in Oregon on June 27, according to the Washington Post.
“I think sports is a distraction. Sports is entertainment. But my purpose and my voice and mission is bigger than the sport,” Berry said according to the Washington Post.
The International Olympic Committee announced new guidelines for athletes who wish to protest during the games in a July 2 press release.
Athletes will only be allowed to protest prior to their event and not on the podium during the ceremony, according to the press release.