The International Olympic Committee wants to sit on two chairs

The IOC recommended that athletes from Russia and Belarus be allowed to return to international competitions in a neutral status. However, the issue of the participation of athletes from these countries in the 2024 Olympics was not raised.

Photo: AP Images

The IOC recommended that international sports federations allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete in tournaments held under their auspices. This was announced by Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, following a meeting of the organization’s Executive Board.

The IOC head named six points regarding the future of sanctions against Russia and Belarus in sports. Bach noted that the athletes of these countries are allowed to compete but under certain conditions.

1. Athletes from Russia and Belarus must compete only as neutral athletes.

2. Teams from Russia and Belarus cannot compete.

3. Athletes and staff who actively support the war must not compete.

4. Athletes who are under contract with the Russian and Belarusian armies and National Guard are ineligible to compete.

5. Neutral athletes who are allowed to compete must meet all requirements, including anti-doping rules.

Sanctions against Russia and Belarus as states should remain in place: a ban on competitions, as well as symbols and attendance at international events.

At the same time, Thomas Bach noted that the issue of participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in the 2024 and 2026 Olympics was not considered.

Before the decision was made, the IOC President drew attention to the fact that the principle of “selective elimination” would be taken into account when athletes from Russia and Belarus returned to the competition. It was noted that only those athletes who do not actively support the war in Ukraine will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag. Otherwise, their actions will be considered a violation of the Olympic Charter and will result in further suspension. 

In his speech, Thomas Bach traditionally referred to a manipulative report by two representatives of the UN Human Rights Council, who claimed that the suspension of Russians because of their passports is discrimination.

This is not discrimination, Ukraine says.

Prior to the IOC Executive Committee meeting, Ukraine noted that the return of athletes from Russia and Belarus under a neutral flag “is not a punishment” for them and called on the organization to abandon this decision.

On the eve of the meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Committee, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland issued a joint statement on the prevention of Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in international sports competitions. 

The text of the statement was published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Its authors noted that they had taken into consideration the concerns expressed by the UN Special Rapporteurs on non-discrimination based solely on the nationality of athletes.

“We regret that the IOC has used these concerns as a pretext to radically change its previous well-reasoned position on the recommendation to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international sporting events. We would like to emphasize that it is not the nationality of the athletes that determine their role, but the fact that they are sponsored/supported by their governments or companies that support the Kremlin regime, which continues its aggressive war against Ukraine, or even they are directly Russian military personnel,”¬†the statement reads.

At the same time, its authors reminded that Russia and Belarus can return their athletes to the international sports community by ending the war of aggression unleashed by Russia with the complicity of Belarus and restoring respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

What’s next?

Of course, the IOC’s decision is an attempt to save face and not lose money. 

Yes, they have allowed Russians and Belarusians to compete, which means they can hypothetically claim sponsorships, advertising revenue, and the broadcast of sporting events in Russia and Belarus, where viewers will be interested in watching their athletes perform even without the Russian flag and symbols. 

At the same time, these requirements for Russian athletes should theoretically protect sports from politicization, according to the IOC. However, it is still unclear how and who will monitor public statements or “active” support of armed aggression by Russian athletes. It is unlikely that before each sporting event, their athletes will be questioned and asked “do you support Russia’s aggression against Ukraine” or “do you support the forced deportation of Ukrainian children”.

In general, there are questions about terminology. What is “active” support

Unfortunately, the IOC, in pursuit of profit, is doing everything it can to politicize sport. It allows the Russian regime to talk about easing sanctions and to use sporting achievements to strengthen the authority of the government within the state and to spread propaganda outside.

Unfortunately, this is a manifestation of the crisis in international sports. Crisis and corruption.

Because when profit is more important than principles, and principles become flexible; when common “high matters” and categories such as human rights are used to cover up corruption and manipulation, it encourages others to do injustice. 

And while Ukrainian athletes continue to defend their country from aggression and, unfortunately, give their lives for it, Russian athletes will glorify their state, turning a blind eye to all the crimes. 

They will probably win medals and receive awards from the president. A president who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

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