David Miller

In Britain, there is no cynical visit to the heart-rending grave of Sarah Everard by police rapist-murderer Wayne Couzens, as outrageously perpetrated by mass murderer Vladimir Putin of mothers and children in Ukraine's ravaged city-wide cemetery of Mariupol.  

Social universality and tyranny are hardly companionable philosophies: surely it is unconscionable for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in proclaimed fidelity to its honourable Charter, to simultaneously campaign for admission to the Olympic Games in Paris next year for any performance-qualified athlete including nominations from Russia?  

The International Criminal Court's war crimes conviction against Putin for deportation of over 16,000 children is the ultimate terrorist insult to the democratic world.

Since the 12th-century's geographic and strategic empire of Genghis Khan from the Sea of Japan to the Atlantic - whether physical, political or both, either military or bureaucratic - tyranny has manacled multiple European and Asian nations.  

Under the aegis of Tsar Peter the Great in the 18th century, all the Romanovs, then Lenin, Stalin and now Putin, myriad minor nations have been entrapped in cultural and intellectual submission.  

The rebellious lyricism of Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninov, or authors Solzhenytsin and Pasternak, has served to emphasise the penury of the masses, whose selfless courage in wartime is evidence of their brutal betrayal during alleged peace.

Deportation of innocent Ukraine children for "re-naturalisation" in Russia with which Putin and his Kremlin commissar for children’s rights are now charged is surely an atrocity to cause the IOC pause for thought.

Vladimir Putin is the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court ©Getty Images
Vladimir Putin is the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court ©Getty Images

Prior to Berlin's Olympic Games in 1936, Belgian banker and IOC President Compte Baille-Latour quailed in the face of Hitler's despotic antisemitism.  

Future President Avery Brundage, an ex-Olympian, forced the expulsion of the IOC's Jewish American protestor Ernest Jahnke.  

Six million Jews were condemned. Is the IOC impervious to Russian crime - denying no doubt some Ukrainian children who might have become Olympians for their birth nation?

Or indeed being immune to the extinguished religious sovereignty of China's Uyghur Muslims' "re-education" under duress, or even alleged genocide?

Central to the IOC's dilemma, and critical to the equilibrium, even survival, of Paris's long-awaited third Olympics is President Thomas Bach.  

The redoubtable German has ridden a string of crises: Russia's doping scandal of Sochi 2014, the near financial collapse of Rio 2016, North and South Korea's ideological conflict in 2018, Tokyo's COVID postponement of 2020 and Beijing's politically fraught Winter Games last year.  

Yet amid bureaucratic mayhem, reformist Bach perceptively rescued the IOC from its out-dated constitution, transforming the host city election protocol to bypass damaging public campaigns.  

Voting scandals financially threatened the world's foremost cultural festival, with 90 per cent of the billion-dollar sponsorship income being re-invested back into sport.

Now, perhaps forlornly, Bach is attempting to harvest sufficient IOC votes to maintain Olympic universality: the right of all individuals to participate free of identity with national transgressions. He himself was excluded from defending his Olympic team fencing title at Moscow 1980 because of West Germany's allegiance to America's boycott.

Bach, whose 50-year career I recorded in a recent biography, is an honourable servant of a unique institution: I sense he must now relent on his jurisprudence on behalf of Russia's proposed "universality".  

The cause is long-standing: traced by Mikhail Shishkin, an exiled Russian novelist living in Switzerland, in his just published My Russia: War or Peace.

Shishkin recalls Russia's generic autocracy from the Middle Ages: "Princes occupiers in their own country, robbing citizens of their villages, people not slaves but selfless participants in a collective struggle".  

The polemic was magnified by the Orthodox Church dialogue being conducted in Slavonic, "not the Latin of Europe's Reformation and Enlightenment". When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, "the people yearned not to escape its prison but to build a new one".  Lenin revisited.

Thomas Bach is facing the challenge of whether to readmit Russians into the Olympic fold ©Getty Images
Thomas Bach is facing the challenge of whether to readmit Russians into the Olympic fold ©Getty Images

If Bach is to save a still precious institution, it will not be through geniality towards a nation in which every international athlete is an involuntary political tool.  

The only innocent Russians are that minority who have witnessed the outside world beyond domestic propaganda: some friendly zealots such as St Petersburg's Second World War siege hero Mikhail Bobrov, a personal acquaintance. 

The democratic world is largely ignorant of Russia's manic empire lust, meekly encouraged by the Olympic Council of Asia, suborned by sport-blinded Kuwaiti bureaucrat Husain Al-Musallam. 

The IOC cannot ameliorate Russia's war crimes through the gesture of sport. 

Tony Estanguet, the Paris 2024 Olympic chief, anxiously holds breath for the IOC's decision.

It would be bleak for Paris should 40 Western nations stay away, worse still for the IOC's future - and all of us - if Russia (and China?) were excluded.