For Immediate Release
February 12, 2014
Principal Contact (Global Campaign against IEDs):
Robert C. Morris, Jr.
Phone (U.S): (757) 869-6770
FAX: (U.S.): (270) 477-7087
International Olympic Committee refuses to Condemn Improvised Explosive Devices – Russia Guarantees Safety from Attacks
International Olympic Committee refuses to formally condemn the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and the Russian Federation guarantees safety of the Winter Olympic Games
Yorktown, Virginia – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) denied a request by the Global Campaign against Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) to formally condemn the use of IEDs. They also refused to call on all opposing parties to recognize the neutrality of the Olympic games and refrain for any violence at the Games out of respect for the neutrality of the games and the principles of Olympism. IOC Communications Director and Official Spokesperson Mark Adams stated the IOC would not become involved in the current threat because it is “only taking an official stance on issues within our remit” stating that “as a sport organisation, the IOC’s scope is to deal with matters directly related to sport or the organisation of the Olympic Games.
In an open response to Mr. Adams the Global Campaign disagreed with the IOC’s decision.
The Global Campaign’s disagreement with the IOC position stems from the fact that their decision to not condemn the use of IEDs is actually contrary to the goal of Olympism as stated in their charter to “to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
While the Global Campaign recognized that the IOC lacks the capability to physically stop IED attacks, it believes that by refusing to condemn IEDs and ask that all parties respect the neutrality of the Olympic Games, the IOC increased the incentive for violent groups to seek credibility through IED attacks. The Global Campaign also expressed concern for the threat to innocent populations from IED events in connection with the Sochi Olympics and cautioned against measuring success solely by the number of violent incidents prevented at Olympic venues.
The IOC’s response is similar to that of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington, D.C. whose response to a similar request was that it was passing the request to the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and that Russia “guarantee[s]” the success and safety of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
To date the Global Campaign has not received a response from President Putin’s Office.
More information is available on the organization’s website at: www.CampaignAgainstIEDs.org and updates on global IED incidents as they occur are available through the organization’s twitter feed: @StopIEDs
Original IOC Response
From: Mark Adams
Subject: Your recent letter to the IOC
Date sent: Mon, 27 Jan 2014 16:28:46 +0000
Dear Mr Morris,
Thank you for your recent letter to IOC President Bach and for sharing your campaign against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) with us which is clearly a very important initiative.
As a sport organisation, the IOC’s scope is to deal with matters directly related to sport or the organisation of the Olympic Games. For this reason, we are only taking an official stance on issues within our remit.
Thank you for your understanding and we wish you best of luck with your important work.
Open Response to IOC Email dated January 27, 2014
Dear Mr. Adams:
Thank you for your recent response to our letter addressed to International Olympic Committee President Bach. We are disappointed the IOC denied our request the IOC condemn IEDs and call on all opposing parties to recognize the neutrality of the Olympic Games and refrain for any violence in connection with the 2014 Winter Olympics.
We respectfully disagree with the IOCs position that “as a sport organisation, the IOC’s scope is to deal with matters directly related to sport or the organisation of the Olympic Games. For this reason, we are only taking an official stance on issues within our remit.”
We feel the IOC’s decision not to condemn IEDs and call on all parties to respect the neutrality of the Olympic Games increases the potential for IED events in connection with the Sochi games.
The IED threat is directly within the IOC’s scope and is a serious matter directly related to sport and organization of the Olympic Games. In fact, IOC president Bach condemned the Volgograd bombings stating that IED attacks “interferes with (the athletes) realizing their full potential on the world’s biggest sporting stage”.
IEDs have been used to target sporting events globally ranging from their use against rival fans at soccer games to the 2012 Boston Marathon.
Previous IOC President Jacques Rogge unequivocally established IEDs as a matter directly related to both sport and the organization of the Olympic Games when he denounced the Boston Marathon IED attack. Both the Olympic movement and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) condemned the bombings, describing them as an attack on the spirit of human achievement and benevolence.
The IOC’s refusal to condemn IEDs and call on all parties to respect the neutrality of the Olympic Games creates the perception the IOC is retreating from that position to a reactive one, only condemning violence after it occurs rather than using its influence and position to advocate against it.
The actions we requested also meet IOC’s mission to “promote Olympism throughout the world and to lead the Olympic Movement”. They fulfill the IOC’s stated roles to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement; promote a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host Countries; and encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education.
In our view the request for the IOC to call on belligerents to recognize the neutrality of the Olympic Games and refrain from violence is definitely within the organization’s remit.
The Olympic Charter states that one of the IOC’s roles is “to cooperate with competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavor to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace.” The IOC’s violates this mandate by not using the potential for violence against the Olympic Games to raise awareness of and work against what is becoming the greatest threat to world peace, stability, and development. If you exclude the IED incidents per month during 2010 in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are on average, an estimated over 600 per month globally. According to statistics compiled by Action on Armed Violence, where explosive weapons were used in populated areas 91% of the casualties were reported to be civilians- most of the explosive devices were IEDs. This makes the IED problem a serious humanitarian one, where innocent civilians, most often women and children, bear the brunt of the suffering. Those in affected areas live in fear of additional attacks that disrupt everything from daily routines, to health care to elections. When displacement, destruction, and loss of personal assets are added to this mix sustainable livelihoods are degraded.
IEDs are indiscriminate weapons and their use violates the IOC’s fundamental principal
The goal of Olympism is “to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”. By not taking a position on IEDs and pro-actively dissuading groups from using them and the Olympics to advance their cause the IOC is violating its Charter that “Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”. achieve this goal.
Finally, we are extremely concerned President Thomas Bach’s statement that “Security is the responsibility of the host country”; and his assurances with Olympic Committee Chief Alexander Zhukov’s that: “all necessary security measures have been taken and safety will be ensured” may inspire attacks.
Another of the IOCs core roles is “to oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes”. We respectfully offer that the current situation with IEDs and the Sochi Olympics has been become just such a political issue due, in part, to the IOCs failure to condemn this activity and related actions.
The instability and insecurity in Dagestan has been growing for more than 15 years without any imminent solutions. The Sochi Olympics created an opportunity for both the Russian Government and opposition groups to use the event as a means toward political gain on the world stage. When the Vilayat Dagestan conducted the suicide attacks in Volgograd and openly threatened to target international athletes and tourists in connection with the Sochi Olympics, they directly challenged President Putin’s political capital. In response, his vow to “annihilate” those responsible placed the Sochi Olympics at the center of their political confrontation.
In response, the Russian government defaulted to the traditional military approach in dealing with an IED threat. This emphasizes responses that attack the network, defeat the device, and train the force. In practice this targets the infrastructure used to produce and deploy IEDs; provides protection of military forces against IEDs; and enables military personnel to survive IED attacks. The only modification was to focus on protecting the Olympic venues from direct IED attack. This ignores the socio-economic, cultural, and other root causes that enable the use of IEDs. It also does nothing to reduce the negative psychological impact (e.g., chronic fear) from a systemic threat of IED use. In our view, the military-focused response in Iraq and Afghanistan has had limited effect; it is also failing and exacerbating the problem in Nigeria and other developing countries; and is not implementable in democratic societies.
We believe resolving the IED problem is the global community’s responsibility and the IOC shares in that responsibility. By attempting to distance itself from the issue with its position that the IOC’s “scope is to deal with matters directly related to sport or the organisation of the Olympic Games” the organization creates the perception that it has narrowed its roll in ways that deny reality.
While we understand the IOC lacks a capability to physically stop IED attacks, however we believe it has failed by not bringing pressure to bear on those who would use violence on any party during the Sochi Olympics. Instead, there is incentive for groups to gain credibility through successful IED attacks that harm President Putin’s political capital and degrade the populations’ faith and trust in their leaders and government to keep them safe.
The IOC created a political issue for the Olympic Games by accepting IEDs as political means instead of correctly categorizing them as criminal activities against social order, human rights, and universal fundamental ethical principles. By refusing to condemn IEDs as criminal acts the IOC sends the message it views such threats and attacks as acts of political violence not within their remit. This is divisive in framing the threat as one between governments and opposition groups rather than a threat against peaceful societies.
The actions we requested would have, in fact, achieved the separation between the Olympic Games and these acts of violence the IOC seeks. It would have had a positive impact on the situation by effectively moving IEDs from a military problem to a law enforcement problem emphasizing the crime rather than the political background and motivation of the attackers. When this occurs arguments shift to center around the fact that IED attacks are illegal under existing international law allowing the local community to build a public stigma against the use of IEDs. Implementation of this rule of law element also promotes police reform and accountability; good governance; international and local human rights; accessible and integrated systems of international and local justice; human rights inquiry, implementation and protections. In the end, IED users will be seen as criminals committing a crime and not making a political statement. After the July 2011 incident in Oslo, Norway correctly focused on the perpetrator’s crime effectively removing political views from the dialog on guilt and innocence.
In its failure to act the IOC is keeping the focus on the attackers and their political cause.
While security around the Olympic Games themselves is robust, we are concerned for the safety and well-being of the innocent populations throughout Russia who face a great threat from IED events in connection with the Sochi Olympics. We hope those events that do occur manifest themselves in thwarted or failed attempts rather than detonations.
Success against the IED threat cannot be measured solely by the number of incidents prevented at the Olympic venues; nor can actions to prevent IED events be, as the IOC stated: “the responsibility of the host country”.
Although it is too late to influence the host nation’s approach to this threat, there is still time for the IOC to clarify its position and work to proactively prevent IED events in connection with the Sochi Games.
Founder and President