In defiance of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s proposal to completely bar Russian athletes from the 2024 Paris Olympics, the IOC made it clear on Wednesday that it wants them to participate as neutral athletes.
The International Olympic Committee argued that no athlete should be subject to prejudice based only on their passport, citing a “unifying goal” during a time of war.
The IOC stated in a statement released following an executive board meeting that “a pathway for athletes’ participation in competition under severe conditions should therefore be further examined.” Following the meeting, IOC President Thomas Bach did not hold his customary news conference.
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 Olympic Games in Barcelona as “independent athletes” when their country was subject to UN sanctions amid a 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.
After speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, who assisted in the 2017 bid campaign for the Paris Olympics, Zelensky addressed the matter.
The voice of common sense has been heard, according to a statement released later on Wednesday by Stanislav Pozdnyakov, head of the Russian Olympic Committee.
Securing the rights and interests of our athletes remains our top focus, according to Pozdnyakov.
Following many conference calls this week with international groupings of Olympic officials, sports governing bodies, IOC members, and athlete representatives, the IOC board gathered to formally adopt a position.
Despite some opposition to those calls, especially from the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, the IOC asserted on Wednesday that a “great majority” of those who participated supported its stated objectives.