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August 14, 2008

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Nine years ago, on August 14, 2008, following the Russian invasion of Georgia, U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), co-chairs of the House Georgia Caucus, announced their intention to introduce a resolution in Congress calling on the International Olympic Committee to find a new venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics that were scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia.

The resolution stated that Sochi – a mere 20 miles from the current conflict zone – made it a practically unacceptable location for the Olympics and that had the IOC been aware of these circumstances at the time of awarding the Games to Sochi that they would not have selected it as an Olympic venue.

“The Russian Federation’s invasion of the Republic of Georgia and its actions against its democratically elected president violates international standards,” said Rep. Schwartz. “Russia must realize that its actions in Georgia will not be ignored by the international community. We stand by Georgia, our friend and ally, and call on the IOC to designate a new venue for the Russian Olympics.”

“Russian belligerence against the people of Georgia and their democratically elected government cannot go unpunished by the international community,” Rep. Shuster said. “The Olympics are a time-honored event that allows the nations of the world to put their differences aside for the purity of sport. Russia’s blatant violation of the long respected ‘Olympic truce’ should be enough for the IOC to join with us in choosing a more worthy venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics.”

The two Congressmen from Pennsylvania called on foreign legislators to introduce similar resolutions in their respective parliaments to send a message to Russia and the IOC that Russia’s actions should cause it to forfeit the honor of hosting the Olympics.

During the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia began its invasion of Crimea and Ukraine as the stunned world watched Russia violate international law again. Since the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia has experienced further isolation in international sports competitions, with many Russian athletes having been banned or stripped of their records and medals because of state-sponsored doping. Some Russian athletes, who have been cleared for competition, have been forced to compete under a neutral banner, with strict rules for competitors. Russia is scheduled to host the 2018 World Cup of soccer, amid calls from the international community to strip Russia of hosting rights and to move the venue to a new location.  Despite the corruption scandal that hit the world soccer body in 2015, FIFA remains dissuaded from shifting the venue from Russia.

Source: “Members of Congress call on IOC to strip Russia of 2014 Olympics,” The Ukrainian Weekly, August 24, 2008.

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