India withdrew from voting on a General Assembly resolution on sports fostering “understanding among peoples and nations” two days after the Cricket World Cup final.
Absence from the polls on Tuesday does not constitute a formal abstention since it is not recorded.
Only Russia and Syria officially abstained from the resolution, “Building a Peaceful and Better World through Sport and the Olympic Ideal,” which received 118 votes.
An IANS inquiry over the absence was not answered by India’s UN Mission.
There were just 73 nations present during the Assembly session, and very few people attended.
“Sports can contribute to an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding among peoples and nations,” the resolution said.
Supported by France, the resolution linked the resolution to the upcoming Paris Olympics and demanded an international ceasefire for the occasion, following in the footsteps of the ancient Greeks who ceased hostilities during the games in 776 BCE.
According to the resolution, the ceasefire is in place “to ensure the safe passage, access and participation of athletes, officials and all other accredited persons” attending the Paralympic and Olympic Games.
It also demanded that the Games be kept secure.
It also said that sports may help “build resilience against radicalization to violence and terror recruitment” and “prevent and counter-terrorism and violent extremism.”
Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Olympic Organizing Committee, introduced the resolution on behalf of France, stating, “The games are the best incarnation of the powers of sport because they bring together tolerance, respect, and sharing as values throughout the world.”
According to former Olympic athlete Estanguet, “it is possible to live in harmony and in respect of other people” because of the Olympics.
But politics and resentment seeped in.
A “dangerous trend of political interference in sport and of turning it into an instrument for exerting political pressure” was the complaint made by the delegate from Russia.
According to her, “our Olympic and Paralympic athletes are being stripped of their dreams for which they have lived and worked”—that is, the opportunity to compete under the flag of their own nation.
Assuring political neutrality and nondiscrimination in international sporting events is “crucial for building a better and more peaceful world through sport,” according to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
In response, he refuted Russia’s protest, claiming that it was suspended for violating the Olympic Charter by enlisting athletes from parts of Ukraine that it had occupied and by interfering with the Olympic committee’s territorial integrity.