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IOC recommends – Russian athletes should be allowed to start again

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IOC recommends – Russian athletes should be allowed to start again
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IOC recommends – Russian athletes should be allowed to start again

IOC recommends return of Russian athletes to world sport

Russian and Belarusian athletes should no longer be banned from world sport. The International Olympic Committee recommends this to the world associations. However, the IOC executive presupposes various conditions for reintegration.

The International Olympic Committee has spoken out in favor of athletes from Russia and Belarus returning to international competitions. Ukraine had previously protested sharply against the IOC’s plans, and German Interior Minister Faeser was outraged.

Dhe International Olympic Committee has recommended the readmission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions as neutral athletes. According to the decision by the IOC leadership on Tuesday, athletes from both countries with connections to the military and security organs as well as teams should remain excluded. A decision on allowing Russians and Belarusians to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will only be made at a later date, emphasized IOC President Thomas Bach.

Rather, one wants to wait and see how the criteria for the return of athletes as neutral athletes to international sports competitions recommended by the IOC are met. “It is an extremely complicated situation in which something can change every day, every month,” said the German IOC boss.

According to the will of the Olympic umbrella organization, no international competitions may continue to take place in Russia and Belarus. Government officials from either country may not be invited to competitions. Athletes must do without the flag, anthem and symbols of their home countries and comply with anti-doping regulations. They are only allowed to participate in competitions if they do not actively support Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. “We stand by our Olympic values,” said Bach.

According to Rule 44.1 of the Olympic Charter, the IOC must send out invitations to the National Olympic Committees one year before the opening of the Olympic Games. July 26, 2023 would be the latest date for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

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Resistance to the IOC’s course comes mainly from Ukraine and a number of western countries. Ukraine points out that many top Russian athletes are also members of the Russian military. In a conversation between IOC chief Bach and the National Olympic Committees on the eve of the IOC deliberations, Ukrainian Sports Minister Wadym Gutzajt recalled that 262 Ukrainian athletes and coaches had already been killed in the war with Russia.

Sports ministers from dozens of countries spoke out in favor of exclusion

Ukraine is also threatening to boycott international competitions up to the Olympics to avoid clashing with athletes from Russia and Belarus. The German Olympic Sports Confederation supported the demands for a continuation of the ban against Russia and Belarus. However, the DOSB ruled out an Olympic boycott “for fundamental reasons”, as association head Thomas Weikert told the newspapers of the Funke media group.

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In February, the sports ministers from 35 countries had already called for the further exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes in a joint declaration. In addition to Germany, other top sporting nations such as Great Britain, the USA, Australia, Japan and France also supported this attitude.

Sharp criticism from Interior Minister Faeser

The IOC had recently sharply rejected these calls as inadmissible interference by politics in the interests of sport. “It is not up to governments to decide which athletes are allowed to compete in which international competitions,” the IOC said in a statement. “That would be the end of world sport as we know it today,” emphasized the Olympic umbrella organization.

Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser has condemned the IOC decision with sharp words. In a statement on Tuesday, the SPD politician spoke of a “slap in the face to Ukrainian athletes” in view of the ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. Faeser emphasized: “There is no reason for Russia to return to world sport.”

The fact that the International Olympic Committee does not want to allow members of the Russian military or teams is only the absolute minimum and is not enough. “The Olympic Games do not take place in a vacuum. Anyone who lets the warmonger Russia use international competitions for its propaganda harms the Olympic ideal of peace and international understanding,” said the minister responsible for sport.

On the other hand, the IOC is receiving support from other parts of the world to lift the ban that has been in effect since the beginning of the war. The return of Russians and Belarusians has many supporters, especially in Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania. “We can open the door for dialogue and have a peace-making effect,” believes IOC President Bach: “It works well in sports such as handball, tennis or ice hockey. Russians and Ukrainians also play and fight against each other. Why shouldn’t this also be possible in swimming? Where’s the difference?”

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