Putin Is Pressing Ahead With His 'World Friendship Games' After Being Frozen Out Of The Olympics

Russia's President Vladimir Putin is looking to hold a
Russia's President Vladimir Putin is looking to hold a "World Friendship Games" after being frozen out of the Olympics GAVRIIL GRIGOROV via Getty Images

It seems Vladimir Putin is still planning to unveil the so-called “World Friendship Games” in Russia later this year, despite intense international opposition.

It’s meant to be an international multi-sport event, where – unlike at the Olympics – athletes can win cash prizes instead of medals.

According to the Russian state news agency TASS, the president decided how the event would be funded in new legislation last Friday, 10 months after Russia first announced it.

It seems the money for the events will come from federal, regional and local budgets, even as the Ukraine War and Western sanctions continue to put huge strain on the Russian economy.

In fact, the prize money – totalling up to 4.6 billion rubles (£39.6 million) – may have to be placed in cryptocurrency to avoid sanctions, TASS reported.

This is, of course, Putin’s take on the Olympic Games, which he and his allies in Belarus are no longer invited to in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing doping scandal.

Russia is also presenting this as the second edition of the games.

The first was held in the Soviet Union back in 1984, where socialist states competed against each other after deciding to boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Now, athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus have been mostly frozen out of international sporting events, permitted to compete only as neutral athletes without flags, anthems and emblems.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the Russian Olympic Committee in October, after it recognised regional bodies for four areas of land Russia has illegally occupied (Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia) in the course of the war.

The 2024 World Friendship Games organisers say it is not competing against the Olympics.

However, the IOC president Thomas Bach told French daily paper Le Monde that Moscow’s aggressiveness towards the Olympics is “growing by the day”.

The IOC has repeatedly slammed the Putin’s plans, saying the games would be “purely politically motivated sports events” and calling for all governments to boycott the event.

Russian media says 5,500 people are expected to take part in the games.