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9 Dec, 2022 17:38

Russia welcomes ‘victory of common sense’ at Olympic summit

An IOC meeting on Friday outlined proposals for the return of Russian athletes
Russia welcomes ‘victory of common sense’ at Olympic summit

The president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Stanislav Pozdnyakov, has praised developments at a summit held by international sporting officials on Friday, asserting that it was a step forward in the hopes of Russian athletes returning to global competitions.

Pozdnyakov was among the figures to take part in the 11th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Summit, which was hosted at the organization’s base in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A crucial topic for discussion were the bans levied on Russian and Belarusian athletes across a wide range of sports following an IOC recommendation in February after the onset of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

A declaration issued by the IOC on Friday stated that it would consider a proposal by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at events under its auspices.

It also noted that participants had taken into account recent comments such as those from French President Emmanuel Macron, who has stated that “sport should not be politicized.”

The developments have been seen as a sign that Russian and Belarusian athletes have greater hope of being cleared for qualifying events ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games – even if sanctions such as a ban on their national symbols and anthems remain in place.

“First of all, I want to emphasize the exceptional, in my opinion, importance of the declaration for Russian and Belarusian athletes,” Pozdnyakov said in a Telegram message.

“The participants of today’s IOC summit were unanimous that there are no grounds for further suspension of athletes.

“This means that in the near future our athletes will be able to return to the international arena and compete in qualifying Olympic competitions.

“Of course, for this it is necessary, at a minimum, that the IOC cancel the current recommendations, but the general content and direction of today’s discussion testify, in my opinion, to the victory of sports diplomacy and common sense,” Pozdnyakov added.

Pozdnyakov praised the efforts of his Russian colleagues for their “purposeful, constructive work” on behalf of Russian athletes.

“As a result, what few people believed until recently may soon become a reality. The international Olympic community today came out with a consolidated position, and it meets the main humanitarian, sports and moral criteria,” added Pozdnyakov.

The IOC has maintained that it has only “sanctioned” the Russian and Belarusian governments – including by stripping sports events from their countries – and that athletes themselves have been subject to “protective measures.”

IOC president Thomas Bach has argued that the recommendation to suspend Russian and Belarusian sportsmen and women protects them from hostility outside their home countries, while maintaining the “integrity” of competitions.

But offering a potential solution, the Olympic Council of Asia and its acting president, India’s Randhir Singh, argued that “on the Asian continent, the reasons for the protective measures no longer exist.”

The OCA has therefore “offered to facilitate the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in competitions in Asia under its authority, while respecting the sanctions in place.”

Russian officials have consistently accused the IOC of discrimination ever since the bans were imposed on athletes, decrying the measures as politically motivated.