The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board has recommended international sports federations to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under neutral flag but not if they support the ongoing military operation in Ukraine, IOC head Thomas Bach said on Tuesday.
“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 can not compete … 4) Athletes who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies can not compete,” Bach told reporters.
Under these recommendations, international federations should also take into account the activity of the athletes on social media, their public statements concerning the Ukrainian conflict, when deciding whether to allow an individual from Russia or Belarus to compete, according to the IOC.
“All relevant circumstances, in particular public statements, including those made on social media; participation in pro-war demonstrations or events; and the displaying of any symbol supporting the war in Ukraine, for example, the ‘Z’ symbol, have to be taken into consideration,” the IOC said in its press release.
At the same time, the IOC also said that it would make a decision concerning the participation of athletes and their support personnel with a Russian or Belarusian passport at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris later, “at the appropriate time.”
Bach stated during the press conference that the executive board had not decided to give a clear time line regarding a decision on the participation of athletes from the two countries in the 2024 Olympics, due to the complexity of the current situation,
“We want to monitor the implementation of these recommendations, let’s say, as long as possible in order to be enabled to take an informed decision. Therefore, the executive board today did not consider appropriate to give a time line because in this extremely complex situation nobody knows what is happening tomorrow, in one week or in nine months,” Bach said.
Later, the IOC confirmed to RIA Novosti that all Russian athletes representing the Central Army Sports Club (CSKA) and other clubs associated with law enforcement agencies did not meet the criteria for obtaining a neutral status to participate in international competitions.
In February 2022, the IOC recommended that international sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in competitions after Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine. Most international federations initially followed the recommendation, but some have since allowed athletes from Russia and Belarus to return under a neutral flag.