Olympics: Allegation Russian group targets IOC boss with hoax phone calls

Olympic president Thomas Bach has been targeted by hoax phone calls from a Russian group pretending to be the African Union Commission, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) maintains.

The callers wanted to discuss the issues around Russia’s involvement at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Earlier this week Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned by the IOC from taking part in the opening ceremony.

Russia’s response to the ruling was “extremely aggressive”, said the IOC.

The IOC has now released details about what it described as a “new incident in the Russian disinformation and defamation campaign” against the organisation and Bach, who is a German former Olympic fencer.

“Fake calls purporting to be from the African Union Commission appear to have been made by the very same group that has already attacked a number of global political leaders and other high-ranking personalities in the same way,” said the IOC in a statement.

“During the calls, a person pretending to be the chair of the African Union Commission wanted to have arguments, in particular from the IOC against the politicisation of sport by the Russian government, in order to prepare a statement against such politicisation.”

In September, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was caught out by Russian hoaxers in a phone call and made unguarded comments about international fatigue with the conflict in Ukraine.

The IOC previously said, externally it had been a target of “fake news posts” and “fake information” which had included a documentary series narrated by an AI-generated voice purporting to be Hollywood actor Tom Cruise.

Athletes representing Russia and Belarus were banned from the Olympics following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but they can compete at the Paris Games as neutrals.

That means taking part without flags, emblems or the anthems of their country.

After the decision to stop them taking part in the opening ceremony, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the IOC had “slipped into racism and neo-Nazism”.

Bach, who the IOC says has been subjected to personal attacks, responded by saying: “There are more quotes coming from Russia which are extremely aggressive.”

This story was first published by the BBC

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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