The creation of a ‘marathon league’ could be among the new developments in sporting ties among the BRICS countries, the Russian Sports Ministry has said.
Sports officials from the bloc – which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – held an online meeting on Tuesday in which they discussed strengthening cooperation.
Russia was represented by Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, who praised the “non-discriminatory” attitude among BRICS members at a time when Russian athletes have been banned from a variety of international competitions.
“Sports cooperation between the BRICS countries is built in the spirit of partnership, equality, mutual respect and non-discrimination,” Matytsin said in a statement shared by his ministry.
“We believe that in 2023, student sports should become one of the priority areas of our cooperation.”
Russia specifically floated the idea of a new ‘Marathon League’ involving the five countries, which could be based around the main Russian marathons already held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kazan.
Plans for the 2023 BRICS Games were also discussed, which are set to be held in South Africa and involve 10 sporting disciplines.
The meeting came in the same week as Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin discussed sports ties at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
The organization is the world’s largest regional bloc and contains a combined population numbering more than 3 billion people.
The SCO has agreed to step up cooperation in sport after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the establish of a special association among its members at a summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in September.
Russia outlines plans for latest ‘Friendship Games’
Russian officials have frequently talked up the prospect of more sporting collaboration with partners in the SCO, BRICS, and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) in recent months.
The discussions follow the recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the end of February that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be banned from global events because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Numerous Russian athletes and sports figures have called the sanctions discriminatory and contrary to the principle of sport being outside politics.
It has also been pointed out that athletes from other nations whose governments have launched foreign military campaigns down the years have not faced similar punishments.
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