Olympics chief reveals condition for Russians to return to international sports
Russian athletes that don’t support the country’s military operation in Ukraine might be accepted back into the global sports community, according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
Russian teams, clubs, and athletes have been suspended from taking part in most sporting events since the IOC made the recommendation to a number of sports federations in late February.
Russians have already missed some qualifying events for the Paris Olympics in 2024, and Bach said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that the IOC needs “to think about the future.”
“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” according to Bach, who hinted that the body should rethink its approach, following calls with Olympics shareholders in which the possibility of Russia returning to the international sports arena was discussed.
“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” the IOC president said. “On the other hand – and here comes our dilemma – this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”
Russian athletes have continued to compete in some sports such as tennis and cycling under neutral status, which does not allow the use of Russian flags or anthems.
At the Olympics, Russian teams have competed as the ‘Russian Olympic Committee’ (ROC) since 2016, due to the fall-out from the doping row related to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
The IOC and its president have previously been criticized for allowing this and not being stricter on Russian athletes, but Bach told Corriere della Sera that the IOC’s mission is to remain politically neutral and let the Games and “sport in general” be “something that unifies people and humanity.”
“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” Bach said.
“We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again.”