Despite Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky’s plea to ban them, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stated its intention to permit Russians and Belarusians to compete at the 2017 Olympics in Paris as “neutral athletes.”
The IOC declared that it will continue to impose penalties on Belarus and Russia, including a prohibition on the use of national symbols and an invitation to Russian government representatives, but it would not bar athletes from competing “simply because of their passport.”
The IOC statement stated that “a road for athletes’ participation in competition under rigorous conditions should therefore be further examined.”
The Olympic Council of Asia’s offer to permit Russians and Belarusians to compete in Asian events in order to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics was also “welcomed and appreciated” by the board.
The Global Athlete and Athletes for Ukraine organisation swiftly reacted negatively to the IOC’s action.
The joint statement issued on January 26 states, “Today’s decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris sends a message to the world that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approves Russia’s cruel war and invasion of Ukraine.
The IOC is supporting Putin’s government, bolstering Russia’s propaganda machine, and harming peace by allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete.
Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 with Belarus’ support, the IOC recommended banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from tournaments on February 28.
In a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on January 24 of this year, Zelensky voiced his opposition to allowing Russian athletes to compete in the Olympics.
Zelensky posted on Telegram, “I particularly stressed that athletes from Russia should not be allowed to compete at the Olympic Games in Paris.
According to the IOC, “the vast majority of the participants in each of the consultation calls” supported the choice.