Politics in sports
IOC gives green light for Russian and Belarusian athletes at Paris Olympics
Board suggests individuals can compete as ‘neutral athletes’ Ukrainian Athletes and Global Athlete criticise decision
Members of the discussion:
Last month, the Olympic Council of Asia gave its blessing for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in events under its jurisdiction in the run-up to Paris 2024. This was given the green light by IOC executive board members on Wednesday after consultation calls were held last week with members, the global network of athletes representatives, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees.
Discussions focused on three key areas and among them was the possible access to sports competitions for individual athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports. It was agreed by the IOC executive board that “no athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport” but that all those involved would compete as “neutral athletes”, assuming they fully respected the Olympic Charter and had not actively supported the war in Ukraine.
When Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the IOC reacted with a recommendation that athletes from Russia and Belarus be barred from international sports competition but that is no longer the case almost 12 months later. Reacting to Wednesday’s announcement, a joint-statement from Ukrainian Athletes and Global Athlete was critical of the IOC’s decision.
the joint-statement read.Today’s decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in qualifiers to attend the 2024 Paris Olympic Games sends a message to the world that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) endorses Russia’s brutal war and invasion of Ukraine,
The return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competition, especially the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, will see the Russian state use athletes once more to bolster the war effort and distract from the atrocities in Ukraine on one of the biggest multi-sport stages in the world.
Our call today is a hard stance with a real human cost. However, the cost on Russian and Belarusian athletes pales in comparison to the atrocities experienced by every single Ukrainian.
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