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After defending Russian athletes, former biathlete Simon Fourcade taken to task – RT in French

The coach of the French junior biathlon team has been strongly criticized for having expressed his disagreement with the exclusion of Russian athletes from sports competitions by international federations, which he considers counterproductive.

Former French biathlete and now coach of the France team, Simon Fourcade was the target of virulent criticism after contesting the exclusion of Russian athletes from international competitions, reports RMC Sport. In an interview given to the Russian media Match TV, the sportsman, while saying he was opposed to Russian intervention in Ukraine, saw it as “a counter-productive measure”, affirming that the athletes concerned had nothing to do with the conflict.

This position notably scandalized the Ukrainian biathlete Dmytro Pidruchnyi. “Go to hell,” he said to Simon Fourcade, simultaneously targeting the latter’s brother, Martin (five-time Olympic champion) on Instagram, when the latter was not taking part in the debate. According to the Ukrainian sportsman, who joined his country’s army in the first days of the Russian offensive, “the silence of Russian and Belarusian athletes means that they have made their choice to support the war”.

Simon Fourcade had however explained that his empathy towards the Russian athletes stemmed from scenes he witnessed during the Junior World Championships in Salt Lake City (United States): “One day, on the shooting range, at the time of the adjustments, coaches told their athletes [russes] that they could not finish the competition. Some burst into tears. It affected me deeply,” he said. Simon Fourcade, saying he is “on the side of friendship and sport”, even made a symbolic gesture in support of these athletes by cutting out a French flag and rearranging it on the colors of the Russian flag. “It doesn’t mean in any way that I support the Russian government and what they are doing right now. I just wanted to show them that we were well aware that they were not guilty and that we were able to make the distinction,” he insisted.

Martin Fourcade also reacted to the Ukrainian’s attacks: “I’m not used to responding to private attacks on social networks, but I’m a little tired of being insulted. Your sadness does not allow you everything,” he replied to Dmytro Pidruchnyi.

Numerous criticisms have been added to those of the Ukrainian sportsman, Simon Fourcade having reported “hundreds of hate messages” received after his positions, in a publication on Instagram on April 3. He made a point of clarifying his positions, saying he was once again opposed to the war and inviting critics to leave his brother out of the controversy: “I do not support the war and I do not support the Russian government”, has he writes in capital letters.

“It’s quite easy to see Western European athletes sitting comfortably on their sofas saying, ‘You should speak up, you should take a stand, you should apologize for being part of this…'” he criticized, adding that international sports federations and institutions have been quicker to exclude Russian athletes with one voice than to question the organization of “major sporting events in countries that do not respect not international peace and human rights”.

The former biathlete took the opportunity to place the question of the public commitment of athletes in other contexts which had less moved his detractors: “Where were you when Syria was bombed by the same regime that attacks Ukraine? ? Where were you to oppose the Olympics in China when the Chinese government was oppressing the Uighur people? Where were you when the FIFA World Cup was given to the government of Qatar for failing to respect human rights? Where were you for the F1 Grand Prix in Jedda when the Saudi government attacked Yemen and executed 81 people a few days ago?

Since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24, Russian and Belarusian athletes have been excluded from many international competitions, including the Paralympic Games held in China in early March, sanctions that come on top of economic measures taken against Russia.


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