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6 Dec, 2023 07:06

IOC to keep ‘discriminatory’ rules for Paris Olympics

Allowing Russians to compete as neutral athletes has mostly been “without incident” so far, the body has said
IOC to keep ‘discriminatory’ rules for Paris Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pledged to keep its strict admittance rules in place for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, citing support from international sports federations. Moscow considers them discriminatory and says they show the sports body’s double standards. 

In a communique published on Tuesday following the Olympic Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC noted that it will maintain its policy, while reminding that allowing holders of Russian and Belarusian passports to compete as neutral athletes “have largely been without incident.”

The chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Emma Terho, and International Summer Sports Federations representatives have supported admittance to the Paris Games under the terms. IOC President Thomas Bach previously indicated that the body’s executive board may make a final decision on the issue next March.

The IOC recommended banning all Russian and Belarusian athletes from international events, after the Ukraine conflict escalated into open hostilities last year. The revision came in March.

The new rules allow some Russian and Belarusian citizens to compete, provided that they distance themselves from the policies of their respective governments. Kiev and some of its Western backers have blasted the partial relief.

Russia considers the terms humiliating for its athletes and has accused the IOC of politicizing sports. The disagreement was highlighted last month at the UN General Assembly, when member states were preparing to vote on a traditional truce during the Paris Games.

Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Maria Zabolotskaya, lashed out at Bach for the “illegal barring” of athletes, which she called “the height of hypocrisy and cynicism the likes of which we have not seen in recent history.”

“The double standards and the segregation based on nationality upheld by the IOC leadership is a violation of basic human rights,” she stated.

Earlier in the month, the IOC triggered a firestorm in Russia with its policy justifications.

It had stated that “athletes cannot be held responsible for the actions of their governments” and warned against discrimination in the context of the unfolding Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza. Asked by a Russian sport news outlet why the hostilities in Ukraine warrant a different approach, the committee claimed that Moscow and Belarus were punished for breaking the Olympic truce.

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the Olympic Charter does not mention this, unlike UN resolutions. The ministry listed numerous examples of nations engaged in armed conflicts participating in the Olympics. The US, it noted, was bombing Vietnam during the 1968 games in Mexico City and did not face any sanctions.