According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the International Olympic Committee has already decided the fate of Italy ahead of Wednesday’s remote Executive Board Meeting.
While the IOC has a number of important topics to discuss regarding the very fate of the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games, among those is expected to be a confirmation of the decision to suspend the Italian flag and national anthem from playing at the Tokyo Olympic Games later this summer.
Giovanni Malagò, president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), confirmed reports that if the Italian government does not resolve issues of CONI’s autonomy by Wednesday, that the vote will be in favor of suspending the symbols of Italy from participation in the Olympic Games.
Speaking in front of the Italian senate, Malagò’s pleas did not apparently fall on deaf ears – at least one senator, who voted in favor the reform in 2019, now believes that “the government must work to give a signal to the IOC, we cannot allow the image of Italy to be tarnished.”
What’s more, the move could hit the funding for CONI, both that provided directly by the IOC, and via sales of Olympic-themed merchandise emblazoned with the name and flag of Italy.
This represents the tipping-point of a two-year battle over a change in the way that the Italian government is funding the country’s Olympic sports.
A new law in Italy, enacted in 2019, that allows the federal government the authority to reorganize CONI, its activities, and its internal organization.
CONI’s previous government funding is now to be divided between the Olympic Committee and the newly-formed Sport e Salute company, which is entirely state-owned by the ministry of economy, that distributes the income from state funds and financing. In essence, this gives the Italian government greater control over how much money goes to CONI and how that money is used.
Malagò says that areas where neutrality and autonomy are necessary include the determination of the rules of sport and the definition of the structure and governance of sports.
Cooperation with governments is envisaged, but national committees must be independent of any political, economic, or religious influence.
Malagò says that any IOC decisions on possible sanctions that could be taken against Italy will come at its next executive board meeting on January 27.
Italy won 28 total medals at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, including 8 gold, 12 silver, and 8 bronze medals. That put them 9th in the overall medals table, sorted by gold-silver-bronze order. Northern Italy, with anchor cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, is scheduled to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.
Of those medals, 1 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronzes were won by swimmers, though those numbers are expected to rise in Tokyo in lockstep with an overall explosion of international success by Italian swimmers in the four years since.
The Tokyo2020 Olympic Games were reschedule from last summer amid the global coronavirus pandemic and are now planned for July 23-August 8, 2021.