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Don’t let the West’s rivalry with Russia spill over into the Olympics

A man walks in front of the Russian Olympic Committee headquarters and Russian Athletics Federation office in Moscow on July 19.
(Yuri Kochetkov / EPA)

To the editor: In ancient Greece the warring city-states would lay down their arms for the duration of the Olympic Games, replacing the bloodshed of the battlefields with athletic competition. This ideal of peaceful competition between rival nations has remained a core principle of the modern Olympic movement.

The International Olympic Committee must not betray it by banning Russia from the Rio Olympics. (“Ban Russia from the Rio Olympics,” editorial, July 20)

Doping is the scourge of modern sports, and surely Russian sports officials have behaved abominably. But just as surely, they are not the only ones. Of the twelve countries included in the original list of suspects only Russia was investigated and singled out for a ban. We would be willfully blind if we denied that the reason is that Russia is the West’s chief geopolitical rival. The Olympics, instead of being a bridge between nations, is used as tool to isolate and humiliate a perceived enemy.

Singling out one nation, punishing the innocent with the guilty, and turning a blind eye to other offenders will do nothing to clean up sports. It will, however, undermine the Olympic movement and increase the chances that the next round of competition between nations will take place not in a stadium, but on a battlefield.

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Amir Alexander, Los Angeles

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