The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made clear on Wednesday that it wants Russian athletes to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics as neutral athletes, in defiance of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call to exclude them entirely, as reported by ESPN.
The International Olympic Committee said that no athlete should be subject to prejudice based solely on their passport, citing a “unifying mission” during war. “A pathway for athletes’ participation in competition under strict conditions should therefore be further explored,” the IOC said in a statement published after an executive board meeting.
Although athletes who have been “actively supporting the war in Ukraine” risk being barred from the Paris Olympics, which begin in 18 months, the IOC did not explicitly denounce Russia in the statement.
Yugoslavians competing at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona as “independent athletes” although their country was subject to UN sanctions due to civil conflict was used as an example by the IOC. In Kyiv, the readiness of Olympic leaders to include Belarus, a military ally of Russia, will probably be welcomed with shock and rage.
Later on Wednesday, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, declared in a statement that “the voice of common sense has been heard. “The priority for us remains the same — to secure the rights and interests of our athletes,” Pozdnyakov was quoted as saying by ESPN.
According to the Olympic statement, it would be the responsibility of each sport’s governing body to make sure that any Russian athlete who supports the conflict is disqualified from competition, suspended, and reported to the IOC for further action.
Competing in Asia rather than Europe, where they would encounter boycotts and antagonism from other athletes, is one option for Russians looking to qualify for the Paris Olympics. Although the IOC did not officially endorse the proposal, it stated that it “welcomed and appreciated the initiative from the Olympic Council of Asia.”