01:52 GMT +314 November 2019
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    Sergei Ustyugov (Russia) during the men's 50km freestyle mass start at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2017 in Lahti, Finland

    'Like Hitler Did': Olympic Big Wig Compares Banning Russians With Holocaust

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    President of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Gian Franco Kasper has compared banning Russia from the Winter Olympics with the Holocaust. Although he regretted his "unsuccessful" choice of words, he maintained that his overall point is valid.

    Gian Franco Kasper opposed the idea of indiscriminately penalizing athletes strictly on the basis of their nationality and drew contentious parallels with Hitler's genocide of Jews throughout Europe in World War 2. In Pyeongchang, South Korea, which will host the next Winter Olympics, Kasper opposed the idea of a comprehensive ban of Russia.

    "Like Mr. Hitler did. All Jews were to be killed, regardless of what they did or didn't do," Kasper said, as quoted by Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.

    Even Kapser quickly regretted the wording and assured the journalists he was "truly sorry" for his "inappropriate and insensitive" comment. However, he nevertheless maintained that he strictly opposed the idea of arbitrarily penalizing innocent people. Kasper admitted that the Holocaust was indeed more extreme, yet upheld the comparison as viable, since it was "not OK" to charge a person for simply coming from a certain place.

    "I'm fully against banning or punishing somebody because of his passport," Kasper said.

    Russia is currently in danger of being banned from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang after the notorious McLaren report, which accused over 1,000 Russian athletes as being part of Russia's alleged doping program from 2011 until after the Sochi Olympics in 2014, which ended in a clean-sweep victory. In 2017, five Russian skiers were suspended from the FIS Nordic World Championships, including Sochi medal winners Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin.

    ​Following the McLaren report, the International Paralympic Committee banned Russia as a nation from last year's Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while the IOC "only" chose to exclude the Russian track-and-field squad after coming under heavy fire and stopping short of banning Russia outright. In the long run, the IOC let individual sports federations decide which Russian athletes could compete.

    Kasper is among the world's most senior sports officials, as president of the International Ski Federation and the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations, a senior IOC member and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).


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