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Neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus urged to compete again  

IOC urges neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete again 

In light of the current embargo imposed in reaction to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the Olympic committee has suggested that Russians and Belarusians be permitted to compete as neutrals. 

After being barred from contests in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has advocated for the readmission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international sporting events as neutrals. 

The IOC stated on Tuesday that neither the Olympic Winter Games in Milano Cortina 2026 nor the Olympic Games in Paris 2024 are subject to its recommendations to the organizations that oversee Olympic sport. When questioned if the IOC was essentially buying time for the war to end, President Thomas Bach responded, “We are not kicking it down the road. The IOC will take this choice at the proper moment with its full discretion. 

Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by neighboring Russia in February 2022, athletes from Russia and Belarus were prohibited from partaking in international sporting competitions. Belarus served as an important staging ground for Russia’s invasion as well. 

But, an Olympic summit on December 9 made it possible for these athletes to return to competitions despite the ongoing conflict. 

“Condemnation of the invasion by Russia” 

More than 30 countries’ sport politicians opposed the repatriation of the athletes from the two countries, and Ukraine threatened a boycott of Paris. Bach proposed on Tuesday that “athletes with a Russian or a Belarusian passport must compete solely as Individual Neutral Athletes” to international federations and international sporting event organizers. 

These athletes must don uniforms that are either all-white or just one color; team logos are not permitted. The IOC’s letter claimed that athletes should be prohibited from flying their national flags on social media or from saying anything “that may be harmful to the interests of the competition, its integrity, or the participant’s neutrality.” 

According to Bach, athletes from the two nations who have actively backed the conflict in Ukraine or who are “contracted to the military or national security agencies” shouldn’t be allowed to compete under the guise of neutrality. 

According to the Russian defense ministry, more than 20 of the nation’s medal winners at the Tokyo Olympics had military posts. The Central Sports Club of the Army competitors brought home 45 of the 71 medals that were awarded in Japan. The IOC’s “condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is a blatant breach of the Olympic Charter and of the at-the-time-in-effect Olympic Truce,” as stated by Bach, was reiterated. The IOC specified that sanctions against “those responsible for the war, the Russian and Belarusian nations and governments,” must continue to be in place in addition to stating that “teams of athletes having a Russian or Belarusian passport cannot be considered.” 


No flag, anthem, or other representation of Russia or Belarus may be flown at a sporting event or gathering, and these nations are still unable to host international sporting events on their soil. 

The International Olympic Committee further stated that “no Russian or Belarusian government or state official can be invited to or accredited for any international sporting event.” 

The IOC’s recommended standards, according to the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, are “unacceptable.” 

Russian news agencies cited Stanislav Pozdnyakov as saying, “This is discrimination on the basis of nationality.” 

The IOC’s recommendation was scorned by Poland as a “day of shame.” 

“What great things Russia has done to allow their athletes to compete now! Following Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel! following the regular bombings of public places! The IOC is having a bad day. Piotr Wawrzyk, the deputy foreign minister, stated on Twitter. 

The remarks were made a few days after World Athletics decided to ease Russia’s eight-year doping ban. 

After extensive, state-sponsored doping and cover-ups were uncovered, the Russian Athletics Union was banned in 2015. The suspension was extended for an additional eight years because there was a failure to adequately address the problem.

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