Olympic officials are working behind the scenes to contain growing opposition to its plans for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Paris Olympics as the Ukraine war threatens to rekindle Cold War-era sporting frictions.Fighting a year-long invasion, Ukraine has reacted with fury to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) willingness to let athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus return to international competition for the 2024 Games, albeit as neutrals.Kyiv’s threat to boycott the Olympics, if Russians are there and the war is still ongoing, has been echoed by one of its staunchest supporters, Latvia, and drawn sympathy from other allies.“If we need to make a decision now, of course we will not go to such competition,” a Latvian Olympic Committee official told Reuters. “But ... we hope Ukrainian people will win this war, and we will be in a new situation.”Some 18 months before the competition is due to start, the IOC is desperate to calm the waters. A Games torn asunder by war would be an existential threat to the Olympics and its message of global peace — not to mention a huge hit to income.“Currently within the IOC, there is a lot of attention now on the Ukraine issue and the Russian athletes and any opposition,” an Olympic movement insider told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “This is a very sensitive issue that requires a lot of the leadership’s attention.”Though threats to snub the Games have been few and only theoretical so far, they have revived memories of boycotts in the 1970s and 1980s during the Cold War era that still haunt the global Olympic body today.“A sports boycott serves nothing,” IOC President Thomas Bach said on the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Moscow Games boycott by some Western states. “It’s only hurting the athletes, and it’s hurting the population of the country because they are losing the joy to share, the pride, the success with their Olympic team.”Protests also have an impact on sponsors and broadcasters, who contribute billions of dollars every four years.The IOC, host city, and international federations would ultimately benefit if Russian participation was perceived as upholding the Games’ universal and neutral character.The only way that Russians and Belarusians can actually be stopped from attending would be a French ban, similar to the one Britain issued for the Wimbledon tennis championship last year.But that looks unlikely.French President Emmanuel Macron has tried more than counterparts to maintain open channels with Russian President Vladimir Putin. His messaging has been mixed: support and military aid for Kyiv but also periodic calls for security guarantees for Russia when the day to negotiate comes.The IOC is hoping to get Russian and Belarusian athletes back through Asian competitions including Olympics qualifiers, though it has stressed the autonomy of international sports federations to decide how that would happen.Olympics officials are hitting the phones both to try to dampen boycott chatter and to see how Russians could compete in Asia, where some nations worry the plan will cost them slots.Initially, after the invasion, the IOC issued sanctions against Russia and Belarus — including a ban on anthems, emblems or flags — and guidance not to stage international events there.The IOC had also called for a ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions as part of “protective measures” given the volatile situation.But it has since been seeking ways to get them back, saying athletes should not be punished for their passports.The clock is now ticking anyway on Russia’s and Belarus’ Olympic participation, as their hundreds of athletes need to qualify, and competing in European events is impossible.Some qualifiers across the 32 sports are already underway with hundreds of events spread around the world for 18 months.Russian and Belarus athletes currently compete in some sports, such as tennis, as neutrals, while in others, such as football and athletics, they remain banned. Russians have competed as neutrals with no flag or anthem in the past three Olympics as punishment for state-backed doping.Ukraine, which says at least 220 Ukrainian athletes and coaches have died in the war, has accused the IOC of offering Russia “a platform to promote genocide”.And while not repeating such rhetoric, other nations, including Estonia, Poland and Norway, and some sporting figures have voiced opposition to Russian participation.“Politically and morally wrong,” said Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. “Sport is a tool in Russia’s propaganda machine, ignoring that means siding with aggression.” — Reuters
One of the most iconic images of our time shows a polar bear marooned and adrift on an ice floe. Few other images capture the reality of climate change so viscerally. And now, ironically, Davos Man finds himself in a similar metaphorical position. His natural habitat, the hyper-globalised world of the past half-century, is shrinking, and he has gone from skiing in the Swiss Alps to skating on thin ice.Of course, globalisation – the integration of national and regional economies through cross-border trade and investment – long predates Davos Man. Ever since the dawn of industrialisation in the 1800s, technological progress (steamships, railroads, the telegraph, automobiles, airplanes) and financial innovations (like the gold standard) have led to an increasingly interconnected global economy.But this process has not been continuous. An earlier wave of globalisation came to an abrupt halt in the early 1900s with the rise of nationalism and protectionism, culminating in the Great Depression and fascism. Yet since the end of World War II, and especially following the Cold War, the international order has been deliberately geared toward American-led globalisation, with the Bretton Woods Institutions (the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organisation) providing the basic architecture.Conceived by the World Economic Forum in 1971 (but unnamed until 2004), Davos Man became the avatar of this process. Each year since, the WEF has staged its flagship gathering in the Swiss Alps to extol the virtues of free trade and capital-market liberalisation as instruments for underwriting peace and prosperity.But now, many fear that globalisation is in retreat for the first time since 1945. The United States and China are undergoing a large-scale “decoupling.” And the rise of populist movements in advanced economies – epitomised by Trumpism and Brexit – has placed the Global North’s right-wing nationalists on the same page as the Global South’s left-wing anti-colonialists. Both are deeply suspicious of multinational economic arrangements that are seen to undermine national sovereignty.Against this backdrop, Davos attendees spent this year’s gathering fretting over matters of taxonomy (“Re-Globalisation or De-Globalisation?”), while The Economist ran a cover story on the new threats to globalisation emanating from its erstwhile champion, the US. Morgan Stanley, meanwhile, has warned clients about globalisation going into “reverse.”But the change we are witnessing is about much more than supply chains and semiconductors. More fundamentally, what the economic sociologist Karl Polanyi called the “disembedding” of economic systems from social ones appears to be hitting its limits.In strictly economic terms, the case for globalisation will always be compelling: the logic of comparative advantage dictates that if countries leverage their own strengths – their unique combination of resource endowments, geography, human capital, and so on – and then trade with the rest of the world, everyone will end up with more in the aggregate. Economic studies show that almost every country in the world has grown richer as a result of globalisation. Globally, poverty and inequality (at least between countries) have declined markedly.But economic actors are real people with “sticky” psychological traits. They have personal and social identities, and deeply held values. They are not “commodities” or mere factors of production that gravitate like atoms toward their most productive use. Whether they are workers displaced from their jobs by outsourcing or farmers unable to sell their produce because of international agreements, they have understandable objections to globalisation’s race-to-the-bottom dynamics.The popular resistance to globalisation is not cognitive but affective, born of an anger over feeling “left behind” or “swept up.” According to Pew Research, a sense of belonging (or not belonging) to a “community” is the key factor determining whether people’s sentiment toward globalisation is positive (or negative). Globalisation is currently running into the wall of identity, which the prevailing institutions have failed to reconfigure or even acknowledge.Though its influence runs deep, the Bretton Woods order rests on the thinnest possible political foundation. It is constituted by multinational corporations, a handful of international organisations that are famous for their lack of accountability to the public, and a thicket of extraordinarily complex and highly technical trade agreements. None has any direct relationship with ordinary people or their communities.Unsurprisingly, the consensus on globalisation began to fray with the backlash against top-down trade talks and the punitive, procedural mechanisms of the WTO. These mechanisms stand in stark contrast to the bottom-up climate movement. The climate movement reminds us that if we want to reap the economic benefits of a globalised economy, we need genuine global governance, both to distribute the gains from trade more fairly and to forge a new social contract that offers a sense of global community.As I have argued previously, this vision of global governance is less utopian than it sounds. The challenges that globalisation is facing reflect the true nature of markets and economies as fundamentally social phenomena. In an age of “polycrisis” and “permacrisis,” to borrow Davos Man’s lingo, we need to shift the paradigm of globalisation to focus not only on goods, capital, and services but also on people.Ultimately, it is impossible to sustain global markets without global governance based on a broadly shared moral consensus. If Davos Man wants to avoid becoming completely obsolete, he will need to acquire some social skills. — Project Syndicate* Antara Haldar is Associate Professor of Empirical Legal Studies at the University of Cambridge.
Qatar Airways and Airbus announced Wednesday that they have reached an amicable and mutually agreeable settlement in relation to their legal dispute over A350 surface degradation and the grounding of A350 aircraft.A press release issued by Qatar Airways said a repair project is now underway and both parties look forward to getting these aircraft safely back in the air.The details of the settlement are confidential and the parties will now proceed to discontinue their legal claims. The settlement agreement is not an admission of liability for either party.This agreement will enable Qatar Airways and Airbus to move forward and work together as partners, the release added.
France centre-back Raphael Varane, a World Cup winner in 2018 and runner-up last year, announced yesterday his retirement from international duty at the age of 29. “I’ve been thinking about it for several months and I decided it was the right time for me to retire from international football,” Varane wrote on Instagram. The Manchester United defender made his France debut in 2013 and won 93 caps for Les Bleus. He had been in the running to take over as captain following the retirement of Hugo Lloris last month. “To represent our magnificent country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life. Each time I wore this special blue shirt I felt immense pride,” said Varane. Varane’s decision to call time on his France career leaves Kylian Mbappe as the frontrunner for the captaincy, with Didier Deschamps’ side set to begin Euro 2024 qualifying at the end of March with a double-header against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland. The former Real Madrid star played every minute of his country’s triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign as France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the final. He was one of five French players who also started the 2022 final defeat by Argentina on penalties, recovering from a leg injury that ruled him out of the start of the tournament. “I’ll definitely miss these moments with you, but the time has come for the new generation to take over,” he said, thanking Deschamps and his coaching staff as well as the supporters. “We have a group of talented young players who are ready to step up and who deserve their chance.” Deschamps paid tribute to Varane and praised him for the leadership qualities he had brought to the team throughout his time with France. “I cannot turn this page without some emotion, given the bonds we have formed,” said Deschamps, who gave Varane his international debut in a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Georgia. “I respect his decision even if it may seem a bit unfortunate given everything he was able to do with the national team through to the World Cup, during which he behaved like the leader we know he is from start to finish.”