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Following its well-prepared path that began last December, the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board issued a detailed set of recommendations to the International Federations to allow certain Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competition.
After a lengthy recitation of how deeply it supports Ukrainian athletes, the IOC statement included:
“1. Athletes with a Russian or a Belarusian passport must compete only as Individual Neutral Athletes.
“2. Teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport cannot be considered.
“3. Athletes who actively support the war cannot compete. Support personnel who actively support the war cannot be entered.
“4. 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.
“5. 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.”
The IOC emphasized that nothing decided today applies to the Paris 2024 or Milan Cortina 2026 Olympic Games, for which a decision will be made at a later date.
In the news conference that followed, IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) was asked why the situation was different now than in February 2022, when it issued a recommendation for a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes. He responded that the two main drivers were that Russian and Belarusian athletes were already competing – successfully, in the IOC’s view – in sports such as cycling, ice hockey and tennis, and that the volunteer U.N. Special Rapporteurs told the IOC that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be able to compete.
The IOC issued a long statement and accompanying regulations; more to come on this developing story.
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