IOC Hails G7’s Stance as ‘Fully Aligned’ With It on Russian Athlete Participation

Courtesy of: IOC

IOC Hails G7’s Stance as ‘Fully Aligned’ With It on Russian Athlete Participation

The International Olympic Committee this week hailed a statement by the Group of 7 nations that it portrayed as “fully aligned” with the IOC’s stance on how athletes from Russia and Belarus might re-enter international competition. In particular, IOC president Thomas Bach used the G7 statement as a vehicle to highlight countries that are “unfortunately … going beyond these very strict” recommendations by the IOC in continuing to lock out Russian and Belarussian athletes.

The G7 – that is, representatives of the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – met last week in Hiroshima. A statement dated May 19 reaffirmed support for Ukraine in the face of its war with Russia. It included a nod toward sports: “While fully respecting the autonomy of sporting organizations, we are focused on fair sporting competition as well as on ensuring that Russian and Belarusian athletes are in no way appearing as representatives of their states.”

The IOC, by far the biggest of said sporting organizations, jumped on the statement as being fully aligned with its own position. It gave the IOC an opportunity to restate its March 28 recommendations about Russian and Belarussian athlete participation in international events.

“The IOC warmly welcomes the G7 support for the autonomy of sport and for the IOC’s recommendations on the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport, only as individual, neutral athletes. This commitment to the autonomy of sports organisations comes at a crucial time, when it is threatened by a few governments. Therefore, we are very grateful to the G7 Leaders for their unequivocal statement,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.

The March recommendations by the IOC can be read as encouraging the return of sporting normalcy, one that has in the past failed to take action against Russia in particular. The IOC recommends barring participation in team sports, of athletes “contracted to Russian or Belarussian military or national security agencies” or those who “actively support the war.” Those would seem to create a pathway for certain Russian and Belarussian athletes in individual sports to compete in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Bach used the G7 statement as a cudgel to get countries and sports governing bodies with more stringent restrictions against Russian and Belarussian athletes to scale them back. The IOC statement characterized them as, “putting in place obstacles to prevent athletes from their own countries from participating in international competitions, and against organisers of international competitions on their territory.”

“The IOC sincerely hopes that these countries will take this G7 statement into serious consideration so that international sport can once again live up to its mission to unite the world in peaceful competition,” Bach continued.

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