Pressing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to revoke the planned Sochi 2014 Olympic Games from Russia is a “particular and special action” to a “very serious conflict” U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz told GamesBids.com Friday.
On Thursday Schwartz, along with Representative Bill Shuster, announced intentions to introduce a resolution to Congress calling on the IOC to react and punish the Russian Federation for the invasion of the Republic of Georgia that commenced during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games.
“This is just one of a number of possible reactions to the situation”, said Schwartz referring to how the United States will deal with the crisis.
“We are voicing the opinion of several members, and if the resolution passes, the entire congress.
Schwartz and Shuster are actively recruiting members’ support and are reportedly asking for legislators in other countries to follow suit.
But the IOC would face huge risks should they change venues at this time. Despite the resolution’s claim that “…there is still sufficient time to designate a new host city … and to allow a new host city adequate time to prepare to host a successful Olympics” – with five-and-a-half years remaining organizers are already under severe time pressure. The IOC Coordination Commission’s Jean-Claude Killy in April announced that not a single day could be wasted.
A similar resolution was introduced to congress in 2001 when Representative Tom Lantos condemned China’s human rights record and urged the IOC not to elect Beijing to host the 2008 Olympic Games. However, the resolution wasn’t passed and House Majority Leader Dick Armey said that he believed the IOC would not be influenced by a house vote against China. This didn’t concern Schwartz however, “Each situation has to be taken on its own” she said.
Chicago is currently bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games and a team in Beijing is actively lobbying IOC members for their support – but Schwartz admitted that she has not been in contact with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) or Chicago 2016 and has not heard any reaction from them.
“I’m not the first one to draw [the IOC’s] attention to the conflict; it is a difficult and threatening situation. We do this with the greatest respect to the Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee.
There has been tension between the United States and the IOC since 1999 when Senator John McCain – an outspoken critic of the IOC – used the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee he chaired to pressure the IOC to reform and for the President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to resign in wake of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal. IOC resentment has been partially blamed for the dismal results of New York’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Earlier reports that Georgia was encouraging the U.S. resolution was denied by the Congresswoman and she said things could still change.
“It depends what happens with Russia’s compliance [to the ceasefire]. It could change over the next couple of weeks but this is a very serious conflict that has recently escalated.”