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IOC announces verdict on participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in Olympic Games

IOC announces verdict on participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in Olympic Games IOC announces verdict on participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in Olympic Games (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has extended the permission for athletes from the Russian Federation and Belarus to participate in competitions under a neutral flag. The decision was made during the 12th summit of the Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, held on December 5, according to the official website of the Olympic Games Committee.

During the meeting, the issue of the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in future Olympic Games was discussed. It was stated at the summit that despite the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), the IOC has not changed its recommendations regarding the participation of individual neutral athletes (INA) in the current challenging conditions.

It was emphasized that providing protection for the rights of individual athletes to participate in competitions, despite the suspension of their National Olympic Committee (NOC), is an established practice that respects human rights and has been implemented in several suspended NOCs during past Olympic Games.

The summit reminded that the activities of the ROC had to be suspended due to the unilateral decision to include regional sports organizations under the jurisdiction of the NOC of Ukraine, violating the Olympic Charter by compromising the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine.

The IOC also noted that the participation of athletes in the Olympic Games under a neutral flag can only occur under strict conditions - they must meet all eligibility criteria applicable to any Olympic athlete.

Political interference in sports is unacceptable

Summit participants also noted that, contrary to the UN Resolution on ceasefire (A/RES/78/10), the Russian government, according to President Vladimir Putin's decree, intends to organize clearly politically motivated sports events in Russia.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) strongly protested against such events from an anti-doping perspective. The summit confirmed that Russia has no right to host any major competitions on its territory due to the systemic use of doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and later manipulation of anti-doping data.

The Chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission strongly supported WADA's position.

Boycott of the 2024 Olympics in Paris

It is not excluded that Ukraine may boycott the Summer Olympic Games in Paris if athletes from Russia and Belarus are allowed to participate. Ukraine and 34 other states have formed a coalition ready to announce a boycott in the event of such a decision by the IOC.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach supports the admission of Russians and Belarusians to the Olympics.

The final decision on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Olympics in Paris will be made in March 2024.