International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach takes a selfie with athletes. GETTY IMAGES

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed concern over what it describes as an intensified "disinformation and defamation campaign" emanating from Russia.

Fake phone calls purportedly from Russia have been received, with callers claiming to be the chairperson of the African Union Commission and urging the IOC to issue a statement against Russia's alleged politicisation of sport.

"There appears to have been a new incident in the Russian disinformation and defamation campaign against the International Olympic Committee and its president. Fake phone calls purporting to be from the African Union Commission appear to have been made by the same group that has targeted a number of world leaders and other high-profile figures in the same way," the IOC said in a statement. 

In response to this, the African Commission itself is planning to issue its own statement on the matter. The IOC has linked the fraudulent phone calls to a group that has targeted celebrities around the world. This campaign, which is allegedly the work of Russian entities, has had an impact on the IOC since November 2023.

In an official statement, the IOC condemned Russia's plan to host "Friendship Games" in September. It called it a "cynical attempt to politicise sport". The IOC has urged nations invited by Moscow to boycott the games and withhold support.

The first editions of these games are due to be held in Moscow, Yekaterinburg and later in Sochi in 2026, shortly after the Paris Games end in September. Russia also plans to host the Future and BRICS Games in Kazan in 2025. 

On Tuesday, the IOC banned Russian athletes from taking part in the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympics on 26 July.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said it showed "the extent to which the IOC has deviated from its stated principles and descended into racism and neo-Nazism".

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Wednesday that Moscow's criticism of Olympic restrictions on Russian athletes was beyond unacceptable and had reached a "new low and it goes beyond anything that is acceptable."