TBILISI, DFWatch–News that a military pilot declared a hero by Russia for his service in the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008 will be torch bearer for the Sochi Winter Olympics has caused a strong reaction in Georgia.
The announcement has increased discussion over whether there is any point in participating in the Olympics. Many people are against it and call on the government to change its decision to participate.
Georgia was originally not to take part, but the Ivanishivili government changed the decision, which led to criticism from its opponents and former government officials.
The government of Georgia on Monday issued a statement which says that it will make an appropriate political decision ‘in case of excessive politicization of the winter sport games.’
The statement reads that it was a difficult decision to make about the participation of Georgia’s Olympic team in Sochi considering that the country has two of its regions occupied. Despite this, the Olympic Committee of Georgia ‘expressed a good will’ by the support of the Georgian government and the importance of mending relations with Russia, to participate in the upcoming winter Olympics, which will open in February 2014.
According to the statement, the government believes it is important to mend relations between the two states, also important for the citizens of both countries. On this path it is important to have certain fields of relations, which are less contradictory and is less related to the ‘main problems of Georgia and Russia.’ These fields are culture, trade, transport relations, tourism and sport.
“The Russian side does not or cannot appropriately evaluate Georgia’s good will and contradictory trends are noticeable,” the statement reads.
“When we desire to depoliticize the Olympic games and participate in a healthy sport competition, as the Olympic idea serves for peace and cooperation, the other side tries to use it for political goals,” it continues, naming the example of selecting a Russian ‘war hero’, a pilot, as one of the torch bearers.
The statement underlines that the problems related to the Olympics and the occupation line are becoming more tense and acute, along with the Georgian presidential election getting closer. The government is working intensely with the international society, partner countries and international organizations, and reaffirms its committment to the course toward mending relations with Russia.
“Considering all of the above, from now on we will observe organizational measures of the Sochi Olympics with particular attention. If Georgia gets assured that the games are being politicized and used against Georgia on purpose, the government of Georgia will try to make a decision to defend the dignity and interests of its state and citizens.”