The International Olympic Committee has been criticized for paving the way for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games on Wednesday.
Last month, the Asian Olympic Council gave approval for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in events under its jurisdiction on the way to Paris 2024.
It was given the green light by IOC board members on Wednesday, after consultations last week with members, the global network of athlete representatives, International Federations and National Olympic Committees.
Wednesday’s discussions focused on three key areas, including the possible access of individual athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports to sports competitions.
The IOC board agreed that “no athlete should be prevented from competing simply because of his passport”, but that all those involved will compete as “neutral athletes”, assuming that they fully respect the Olympic Statutes and do not actively support the war. in Ukraine.
When Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the IOC reacted by recommending that athletes from Russia and Belarus be banned from international sporting competitions, but almost 12 months later that is no longer the case.
In response to Wednesday’s announcement, a joint statement from Ukrainian Athletes and Global Athletes criticized the IOC’s decision.
“The decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games sends a message to the world that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) supports Russia’s brutal war and invasion of Ukraine,” the joint statement said.
“The return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competition, particularly the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, will once again see the Russian state use athletes to support the war effort and distract attention from Ukrainian atrocities in one of Ukraine’s largest multi-sports stages. World.
“The suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes and their sports officials should be fully reinstated until Russia completely withdraws from Ukraine.
“We recognize that the reintroduction of the ban will hurt many Russian and Belarusian athletes and hinder the opportunity to pursue their careers on the world stage. We recognize that the athletes are not the power brokers responsible for this war.
“Our call today is a firm stance with a real human cost. However, the cost of Russian and Belarusian athletes is insignificant compared to the atrocities experienced by every Ukrainian.”
The IOC board agreed on Wednesday that no international sporting events can be held in Russia or Belarus, and that no government or state officials from the two countries will be invited to any sporting event or meeting.
Despite its continued war-related efforts, the IOC board also expressed solidarity with Ukrainian athletes, insisting that the nation remains unwavering in its commitment to have a “strong team” at both the Paris Games and the Winter Olympics in 2026.