The actions of a Danish sports official who left a speech given by Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov are irrelevant, according to sports official Vitaly Smirnov.
ROC leader Pozdnyakov spoke at the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), which is being held in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Thursday.
Pozdnyakov addressed the congress in his capacity as Chairman of ANOC’s Culture and Education Commission and showed delegates a video that featured footage of international events that took place in Russia earlier. This year.
According to Inside the Games, Danish delegate Hans Natorp left the room during the presentation, marking it later “Propaganda.”
Natorp’s actions come after the Danish National Olympic Committee (DIF) questioned Russian and Belarusian participation in the ANOC gathering.
Officials from both countries are free to attend although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from all competitions due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Reacting to news of Natorp’s walkout, Russian official Smirnov – who is an honorary member of the IOC, having long served the organization – dismissed the move.
“Where is Denmark in the rankings of the Olympic movement, and where is Russia?” Smirnov told RIA Novosti.
“The Olympic movement and the Olympic Games would calmly survive the absence of Denmark, but the absence of the Russian Federation would be a blow.
“It should be noted that there are more than 200 countries in the Olympic movement, and only one has decided to leave”, Smirnov added.
Reports from Inside the Games claimed that Natorp “was among several delegates” who left the room during Pozdnyakov’s speech.
The Danish official had been taken to task the day before by the President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, for remarks perceived as derogatory towards the Russian contingent in Seoul.
Bach insisted that the organization“not painting everyone with the same brush because of the actions of their government.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Bach defended the IOC’s decision to recommend banning Russian and Belarusian athletes, saying it served to protect the integrity of the Olympic movement and protect it from “politicization.”
The German official added that he was “no time” to overturn the bans, although he said Russian and Belarusian sports dignitaries should be exempt from sanctions so they can attend IOC rallies.
Russian officials have long denounced the suspensions applied to their country’s athletes, describing them as discriminatory and allowing politics to undermine sporting principles.