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Georgia calls for boycott of Sochi Olympics

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, October 22
Georgia should not allow the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics to be held if Russian troops have not left Georgia by that time, Georgian MPs said on Wednesday. The Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations, Territorial Integrity Commission and the Committee of Relations with Compatriots Residing Abroad have discussed this issue behind closed doors at the Georgian Parliament. “The process of taking Abkhazia from Georgia will become irreversible if the Olympic Games are held in Sochi,” MPs said.

Representative of the Georgian National Security Council Davit Beritashvili said that Russia will try to attract tourists to Abkhazia. “Only the delimitation of the region, the admission of international monitors and the return of IDPs to their homes, as well as disavowing their recognition of Georgia’s occupied territories as independent states will put Russia within the terms of the Olympic Charter,” Beritashvili said.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Territorial Integrity Issues, Shota Malashkhia, has suggested holding an alternative competition for states which boycott the Sochi Games. “When we call on countries not to participate in an Olympic Games held in the aggressor country we could offer them an alternative,” Malashkhia said. He suggested that an alternative competition might be “incomplete” in terms of events held, “However it is possible to hold a Games of Goodwill to the Victim,” the MP said. Georgian MPs and representatives of the Sports Department have criticised the initiative, calling it “unrealisable”. Davit Namgalauri from the Sports Department said creating a basic infrastructure for such games would need billions of dollars. National Movement MP Koba Khabazi has also downplayed the idea, saying that there was an attempt to hold a Seattle Games in 1980 as an alternative to the Moscow Olympiad; but this proved not to be a workable idea.

The Georgian National Olympic Committee has also written a special report on boycotting the Sochi Olympiad. However officials have refrained from making the report public. Chairman of the Olympic Committee Gia Natshvlishvili has said that the Russian side might use the document for its own purposes.

MP Malashkhia said that the GNOC report would create “serious resonance” in the international community. Speaking to The Messenger he said there have been cases when certain states boycotted the Olympic Games. “This happened in 1956 and 1980 and must happen now too,” Malashkhia said. “It is unacceptable for an aggressor country to host an Olympic Games. If Russia does what it should do, it can host the Games, we will have nothing against that then,” he noted.