Olympics: IOC says it will explore pathway for return of Russia, Belarus athletes

1 week ago 27

LAUSANNE - The International Olympic Committee (IOC), ignoring calls from Ukraine to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from next year’s Paris Olympics, said that a pathway for their athletes’ participation should be “further explored”.

While most international federations followed the IOC’s recommendation last February to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the question is already being asked over their participation at the 2024 Games.

The IOC had previously described the issue as a “big dilemma” that had been politicised by individual governments intervening to block them.

“No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” the IOC said in a press release on Wednesday.

“A pathway for athletes’ participation in competition under strict conditions should therefore be further explored.

The “strict conditions” would include no active support of the war in Ukraine and strict drug testing.

The IOC also said “the vast majority of the participants in each of the consultation calls” supported it exploring the eventual reintegration of athletes from Russia and Belarus... “with each International Federation being the sole authority for its international competitions”.

In addition, the IOC “welcomed and appreciated” the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OCA) offer to accept Russian and Belarusian athletes into qualifying events for Paris 2024.

That could potentially also include Olympic qualifying events, with Russian and Belarusian athletes unable to compete in Europe due to various restrictions and bans as well as opposition caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The IOC is eager to include Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals at the Paris Games, which would mean competing under the Olympic flag, but it is still unclear if and how they could qualify.

Some national Olympic committees, including Olympic heavyweights United States, have backed the possible return of those athletes under a neutral flag.

Since the ...

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