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Neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus advised to compete again  

IOC advises neutral athletes from Belarus and Russia to compete again 

Russians and Belarusians should be permitted to compete as neutrals, according to the Olympic committee, despite the continued ban imposed in reaction to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Following their exclusion from contests in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to compete in international athletic events as neutrals, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

The IOC stated on Tuesday that its recommendations to the bodies overseeing Olympic sport do not apply to athletes’ and their support personnel’s participation in the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 or the Olympic Games Paris 2024. President Thomas Bach responded when asked if the IOC was essentially buying time for the war to conclude, “We are not kicking it down the road. The IOC will take this choice at the proper moment with its complete discretion. 

As a result of the neighboring Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, athletes from Russia and Belarus were prohibited from partaking in international sporting competitions. Another important staging ground for Russia’s assault was Belarus. 

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

The invasion by Russia is condemned. 

Sport politicians from more than 30 countries opposed the return of the athletes from the two countries, and Ukraine threatened a boycott of the Paris Olympics. Athletes having a Russian or Belarusian citizenship should only compete as Individual Neutral Athletes, Bach advised international federations and international athletic event organizers on Tuesday. 

These athletes must don uniforms that are either wholly white or just one color, and they are not permitted to wear team logos. According to the IOC’s regulation, athletes should not post images of their national flags on social media or make comments “that may be harmful to the interests of the competition, its integrity, or the participant’s neutrality.” 

Sportspeople from the two nations who have openly backed the conflict in Ukraine or who are “contracted to the military or national security agencies” shouldn’t be allowed to compete as neutral athletes, Bach said. 

More than 20 of Russia’s medal winners at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 held military posts, according to the Russian defense ministry. Athletes connected to the Central Sports Club of the Army brought home 45 of the 71 medals won in Japan. Bach underlined the IOC’s “condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is a flagrant violation of the Olympic Charter and of the Olympic Truce, which was in effect at the time.”

The IOC further specified that “teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport cannot be considered” and that sanctions on “those guilty for the war, the Russian and Belarusian states and governments,” must continue to be in place in its recommendations. 

‘Unacceptable’ 

It is still not possible for Russia or Belarus to host international sporting events on their soil, and neither of these nations’ flags, anthems, or other symbols may be shown at a sporting event or gathering. 

Also, according to the IOC, “no Russian or Belarusian government or state official can be invited to or credentialed for any international sporting event.” 

The IOC’s recommendations were deemed “unacceptable” by the head of the Russian Olympic Committee. 

According to Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who was mentioned by Russian news outlets, “This is discrimination on the basis of nationality.” 

Poland criticized the IOC’s advice, calling it a “day of disgrace.” 

“What wonderful things Russia has done for their athletes to now compete! Irpin and Hostomel follow Bucha! following the routine bombings of innocent targets! For the IOC, today is a day of disgrace. Tweeted Piotr Wawrzyk, the deputy foreign minister. 

Days earlier, World Athletics had decided to lift Russia’s eight-year doping ban. 

Following the uncovering of widespread, state-sponsored doping and cover-ups, the Russian Athletics Federation was banned in 2015. The suspension was carried over for eight years because there was no substantial response to the problem.

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