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    IOC confirms that it considers Russian, Belarusian athletes to join sports events

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed on Friday that the possibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes returning to the arenas of international events in Asia would be considered. “We cannot allow governments to decide on political grounds who can participate,” President Thomas Bach stated. 

    Since late February, Russians and Belarusians are banned from competing in international events. The IOC explains its decision not as a “punishment” for the invasion of Ukraine, but as a “protective measure” aimed solely at ensuring the safety of athletes and fans. 

    During the IOC Executive Boards meeting, the members discussed the possibility to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete. Representatives of the IOC, sports organisations, international federations and national Olympic committees attended the meeting.

    For now, the IOC is only ‘exploring ways’ to reinstate Russians and Belarusians to compete in selected events. However, the Olympic Committee of Asia (OCA) has gone much further, already declaring that it is ready to “facilitate the participation of athletes from these countries” in events held on the continent under the OCA.

    “Because following the outbreak of this war, some governments started to decide which athletes would be allowed to participate in international sports competitions – and which athletes would not, for instance by not issuing visas for athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus,”

    Bach said. (olympics.com)

    “The participation of athletes in sports events can only be on sporting merit and with those athletes who respect the rules of sport. We cannot allow governments to decide on political grounds who can participate. This would put the international sports model at risk, and we will never accept that. It is also against the international resolutions that governments signed up to,”

    he added. (olympics.com)

    A statement from the OCA explained that the “conflict in Ukraine” mobilises far fewer governments in Asian countries and public opinion there than in Europe, hence there is no reason to continue with such heavy security measures.

    The IOC acknowledged that it has not yet made any decision on this issue. National Olympic Committees and international federations consult on the matter. However, it was confirmed that some of them had already “welcomed” the OCA’s proposal during their deliberations in Lausanne. 

    Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba referred to the whole situation.  

    “Since February, Russia has killed 184 Ukrainian athletes. And now Mr Bach is quoting Emmanuel Macron as allegedly saying “sports should not be politicized” and athletes from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus should be treated equally. Using sports to whitewash war crimes is sickening,”

    he wrote on Twitter.

    Kuleba in this way responded to remarks by Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee President. Despite saying that IOC considers Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in sports events. 

    “This put us in this big dilemma: We had to act against our values and our mission to unify the entire world in peaceful competition. We had to prohibit athletes from participating only because of their passports. This is why we have made it very clear from the very beginning that we need to explore ways to overcome this dilemma with regard to athletes’ participation,”

    Bach stated. (olympics.com)

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