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International Games
Monday, April 03, 2023
Boycott Threat if Russian Athletes Cleared to Compete

The International Olympic Committee is facing growing pressure to make up its mind and decide whether it will let Russian and Belarussian athletes take part in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

With less than 500 days to go until the opening ceremony along the River Seine in the French capital, a total of 35 countries - including the US, Germany, the UK and Australia - have demanded that the committee ban Russian and Belarussian athletes.

So far, the IOC has appeared unwilling to budge, with German President Thomas Bach slamming the calls to ban Russian athletes as "deplorable".

In fact, the IOC has even opened up a pathway to competition outside the Olympics for Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete under a neutral flag - with some sports federations like table tennis eagerly agreeing to let previously banned athletes from Russia and Belarus return to competition.

This week, Bach hit out at what he called the "double standards" of European countries. At a news conference, he said: "We have not seen a single comment about their attitudes toward the participation of athletes whose countries are involved in the other 70 wars and armed conflicts in the world".

Following sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus after the invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February 2022, the two countries have been banned from most major sports competitions.

World Athletics, the governing body for the sport of athletics, banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from all its events for the foreseeable future in March last year and has recently reconfirmed its decision.

Earlier this month, the European Athletics Council said that Russian and Belarusian athletes should remain banned from its events until the war in Ukraine is ended. FIFA and UEFA currently donít allow Russian national teams and football clubs to compete in their events.

When it comes to the Olympic Games, Russia and Belarus are forbidden from hosting any Olympic events, their government officials arenít invited to attend competitions, and their flags cannot be displayed at any sports event or meeting. But the IOC is yet to take a decision on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes should participate on the condition that they compete as individuals under a neutral flag.

The Russian flag hasnít actually been seen at an Olympic event Ė or any other major international sports event Ė for the past four years, due to a doping ban imposed on the countryís athletes after widespread violations of anti-doping regulations were found among competitors from Russia. Since 2019, Russian athletes have been competing under a neutral flag.
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