It’s all about Russia.
This has been a bizarre week by sports standards. Last Thursday, one of the National Hockey League’s biggest stars, Russia’s Alex Ovechkin who plays in Washington in the shadow of the Robert Mueller Russia 2016 election investigation decided to start a social movement on Instagram called Putin’s Team. Russian President Vladimir Putin is up for reelection in March. An athlete can stand for a political cause, many do both publically and privately. But after his Instagram post, Ovechkin’s Putin’s Team support had but reduced to “it’s not political stuff.” In the past Ovechkin has been very supportive of Putin but earlier this year, he claimed he was politically neutral. Ovechkin has been one of the more vocal NHL players who does not like that NHL players have been barred from performing in the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics because NHL owners could not work out a deal to send the players to compete.
A couple of things happened after Ovechkin’s Instagram and political support denial. The President of the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League said if Russia cannot compete in the 2018 South Korea Olympics then the KHL would not shut down for a weeks and send players to South Korea. Which leads to the question, why would you show up and try to get into a club that doesn’t want you? Russia athletes are indefinitely suspended from the Olympics after it was revealed that Russia engaged in a systematic doping scheme to help the country’s athletes. Meanwhile the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach unloaded on his critics who claim that the International Olympic Committee is loaded with bad actors and has doping problems. But there was one part of Bach’s speech that should stand out and it deals with the Russian doping issue. Bach said that it was premature to ban the Russian team from the 2018 South Korea Olympics. A bizarre week.
Russia many or may not be fielding a team at the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics.