IOC (International Olympic Committee)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an extended-format meeting of heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisaation (SCO) at a summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo: Reuters

Vladimir Putin says Shanghai Cooperation Organisation should stage major sporting event, puts group at odds with IOC

  • Russian president says SCO, which includes China, Russia, India and others, should create own sporting association
  • Belarus ally suggests dates for 2024 and 2026, putting it on collision course with Olympics

Vladimir Putin told a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Friday that the group should consider staging its own major sporting competition.

The Russian president said there were “good opportunities to intensify sports cooperation with the prospect of holding major sporting events under the auspices of the SCO”.

He said the group should thing about creating an association of sports organisations under the SCO.

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Putin made clear in a speech at a summit of SCO countries in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Friday that he wanted the group, which includes the world’s two most populous countries - China and India - to become a significant global counterweight to the American-led West, which has turned its back on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian doping scandal, involving revelations of a state-backed system across many sports, following the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, has meant that Russian athletes’ participation at subsequent Olympics has been severely restricted.

Those that have competed have only been allowed to do so under a neutral flag.

China, however, has hosted both a Summer and a Winter Olympics since 2008, although both were to some extent overshadowed by war or preparation for war between Russia and former Soviet republics: Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2022.

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin whose country is an observer at the SCO, said the SCO should hold events in the summer of 2024 and 2026, dates that could put the organisation on a collision course with the International Olympic Committee, with the Paris Games in 2024, and Winter Olympics two years later.

The SCO is a security bloc established in 2001. It comprises China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four post-Soviet Central Asian states, and is in the process of admitting Iran, another state at odds with the West.