A decision not to broadcast the Olympic Games if Russia’s team is barred from them, mulled by several Russian broadcasters, would hurt the IOC and its sponsors and hamper “the promotion of Olympic values,” according to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
“The Russian market is undoubtedly of substantial importance for the sports industry in Europe. A black-out of the Olympics 2018 would clearly have an impact on the exposure objectives of the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and the expectations of its sponsors who might count at least on a right of first negotiations for this territory,” EBU spokeswoman Claire Rainford told Sputnik on Thursday.
Who would suffer the most from a possible plug on Olympics broadcasting in Russia is not quite clear, as it would be defined by the specific contracts, she added. “Whether there is a financial impact on the IOC or on the obligations by the Russian broadcasters to pay depends highly on contractual details,” Rainford said.
The EBU’s spokeswoman expressed hopes that here would be a “speedy resolution” to the broadcasting conflict “for the benefit of sport, its fans and the industry as a whole.” Major Russian broadcaster VGTRK said last month it would not televise the event if the Russian team was barred from participation. Another Russian media giant, Gazprom-media, said the Olympics would not “catch the attention” of the Russian audience if the national team was not present, also implying a refusal to broadcast the games.
The Russian media’s doubts on whether the Olympics will be worth showing came as the political situation around the upcoming Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea remained tense. Russia’s participation in the Olympics is in jeopardy amid the ongoing doping probes, while a number of Russian athletes have already received life-time bans despite a lack of proof to back the allegations. The crackdown by the World Anti-Doping Organization (WADA) and the IOC on Russian sports is largely based on “evidence” provided by rogue former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov. A proposal to blanket-ban the Russian national team will be discussed at the upcoming IOC Executive Board meeting on December 5.