PM Ivanishvili said saying no to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi is “the easiest” way and Georgia will do that “if need be”, but there is no need to hurry and Georgia should not act “impulsively.”
Asked during an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster about a campaign calling for boycotting the Sochi Olympics, Ivanishvili responded: “We should end living with impulses. We [the government] made a statement; I personally took part in drafting that statement and that’s my position. We will do nothing that might be insulting for our country and we will act in dignity. But we should not [react] impulsively.”
“We will say no to participation in the Olympics if need be,” he said. “We have time to say no; that’s the easiest way. Ok, we’ll say no and then what?”
“If there is a need and if it is beneficial for our country we will say that we are not going there; let’s at first get closer to [the launch of the Sochi Olympics]. Why do they [those behind the campaign] need so much hype and tumult?”
He suggested that "many of those" behind the campaign, "including NGOs", are affiliated with the previous authorities; but he also added that he shares concern of many people “regardless of whom they support” about Russia’s recent moves.
“The state should not be reacting impulsively,” Ivanishvili said. “Why are we in hurry? We still have time; we can say no [to the Sochi Olympics] any time. We do not want to act like saying no today and then saying yes and then again no. Let’s wait how events will unfold.”
“If before the Olympics we have a perception that our participation would be insulting, then of course we will not take part,” he added.
The campaign for boycotting the Sochi Olympics, spearheaded by two Tbilisi-based watchdog groups, Transparency International Georgia and International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, was launched on October 8 and involves an online petition, which as of October 14 generated signatures of over 9,000 citizens.
Dozens of Georgian music bands and singers performed an outdoor protest concert in downtown Tbilisi on October 13 under the slogan “No to Occupation, No to Sochi Olympics.” Several lawmakers from the UNM parliamentary minority group were among the audience.
Intense debates about Georgia’s participation in the Sochi Olympic Games were prompted after Russia’s decision to make its military pilot, Ivan Nechayev, who received hero’s award for safely landing damaged aircraft during the August 2008 war with Georgia, as one of those 13,990 torchbearers, who are part of a 123-day Olympic torch relay across Russia before it reaches Sochi in February. Nechayev was among those ten torchbearers who passed the flame around the Kremlin on October 6. Many in Georgia, including some government officials as well, note that although Nechayev was one among thousands of torchbearers, he was the one who was given publicity in news broadcasts of Russian state-run TV channels – the move, which was perceived in Tbilisi as Moscow’s deliberate jab at Georgia.