IOC Issues Recommendations For Russian And Belarusian Athletes’ Return To Competitions

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Thomas Bach, IOC president - Photo Courtesy: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

IOC Issues Recommendations For Russian And Belarusian Athletes’ Return To Competitions

The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday issued recommendations for the return to international competitions of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

The IOC’s recommendations relate only to international competitions and not the Olympic Games in Paris in July 2024 with the question of potential participation to be decided at a later date.

It follows a four-month consultation and discussions with with all Olympic Movement stakeholders: the IOC Members, the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the IFs (International Federations) and athletes’ representatives.

Following the meeting of the Executive Board, president Thomas Bach said:

“Sports organisations must have the sole responsibility to decide which athletes can take part in international competitions based on their sporting merits and not on political grounds or because of their passports.”

The executive board of the IOC in February 2022 recommended the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international events following the invasion of Ukraine.

Athletes were banned by World Aquatics – then FINA – in March 2022 from competing at the World Championships in Budapest after which the Russian Swimming Federation withdrew its swimmers from all FINA competitions for the rest of the year.

Those nations were also excluded from hosting international events leading to Kazan being replaced by Melbourne as host of the 2022 World Short-Course Championships.

That followed European body LEN’s announcement that Russian and Belarusian athletes would not be allowed to compete at their events “until further notice”.

The IOC though has made it clear it wants athletes to return to competition as neutrals which will essentially create a pathway to them competing in Paris.

Ukraine sports minister Vadym Guttsait, who is also president of its Olympic Committee, has previously said the country could boycott the Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete while president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for them to be excluded.

IOC Recommendations For International Federations And Event Organisers

  • Athletes with a Russian or a Belarusian passport must compete only as Individual Neutral Athletes.
  • Teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport cannot be considered.
  • Athletes who actively support the war cannot compete. Support personnel who actively support the war cannot be entered.
  • Athletes who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies cannot compete. Support personnel who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies cannot be entered.
  • Any such Individual Neutral Athlete, like all the other participating athletes, must meet all anti-doping requirements applicable to them and particularly those set out in the anti-doping rules of the IFs.

Sanctions will remain in place whereby no events will be held in Russia or Belarus; no flag or anthem will be displayed and no Russian or Belarusian government or state official will be invited to or accredited for any international sports event or meeting.

Recalling Romanchuk’s Plea; Scott Wants Ban To Stay

ROMANCHUK Mykhailo UKR Bronze Medal 800m Freestyle Men Swimming FINA 19th World Championships Budapest 2022 Budapest, Duna Arena 21/06/22 Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Mykhailo Romanchuk: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

There has been widespread opposition with World Athletics retaining its ban on Russians and Belarusians for the foreseeable future due to war.

Speaking to Swimming World last week ahead of the IOC announcement today, Olympic champion Duncan Scott said of their potential participation in Paris:

“I think they should probably make the same stand they have done last year.

“I don’t see why there’s a reason to change it given the circumstances are exactly the same and there needs to be rules in place throughout that are able to shut them down and be right we really need to stop this.

“I don’t think it should change at all from what it was last year.

“I think it should be the same in my eyes: if there’s been no change in what has been going on then why should there be a change in the way we are viewing it?”

Swimming World was present in Budapest last June when Mykhailo Romanchuk warned against any kind of leniency or relaxing of the suspension of Russia.

He is directly impacted by the war with his father fighting the Russians in the east of the country and he questioned what his own reaction would be if he was to be confronted by athletes from those countries.

He pointed specifically at two-time Olympic champion Evgeny Rylov who was pictured at a Vladimir Putin rally at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in March 2022 wearing the pro-war symbol of the letter ‘Z’ on his clothing.

The Ukrainian – speaking after winning 800 free bronze – said:

“If someone says sport is not politics, sport is the biggest politics.

“Unfortunately it is true – this is the right decision that the Russians are not here because if I saw some of the Russian guys, I don’t know how I will react to them.

“I don’t know: my reaction, maybe it would be aggressive, I don’t know, especially when the backstroke guy (Evgeny Rylov) joined the (Putin rally).

“Inside of me I was ready to go and to kill him but before he was a good friend but everything changed.”


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