Espreso. Global

IOC extends permission for athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete under neutral flags

6 December, 2023 Wednesday

The International Olympic Committee has decided to extend the permission for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in neutral-flag competitions

The IOC communiqué on the results of the 12th Olympic Summit states this.

It is stated that the summit participants were informed that the "neutral" athletes from the Russian Federation and Belarus followed the IOC recommendations during the competition and the competition "largely went off without incident, with only one notable exception". 

Therefore, the IOC decided not to change its recommendations for the participation of individual neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus, despite the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), as long as they comply with the IOC's conditions. 

"It was emphasized that such protection of the rights of individual athletes to participate in competitions despite the suspension of their National Olympic Committee (NOC) is a well-established practice, respecting human rights, and has been implemented across a number of suspended NOCs during past Olympic Games." the statement says.

Ukrinform reported on the consideration of the possibility of participation of "neutral athletes" from Russia and Belarus in the 2024 Olympic Games, citing a press release from the 12th Olympic Summit.

"The vast majority of athletes around the world believe that athletes should not be sanctioned for the actions of their governments. Strict conditions during the qualification process must be maintained and applied consistently in all Olympic sports in which neutral athletes are allowed to participate," Emma Terho said. Officials say that "neutral athletes" from federations such as swimming, climbing or athletics may no longer be able to qualify for the Games. The IOC has stated that "the participation of such neutral individual athletes can only take place under strict conditions," including no anthems or flags, but with the exception of team sports, and that they have not actively supported the conflict in Ukraine. It is noted that the qualification system developed by international federations and the number of places allocated for each sport will not be changed.

The IOC Executive Board will meet on January 18 and from March 19 to 21, 2024, when the final decision on the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Olympics will be made.

Controversy regarding the possible participation of Russians and Belarusians in the 2024 Paris Olympics


On January 27, IOC chief Thomas Bach said he supports the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Olympics, despite Ukraine's threats to boycott.

On January 31, Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko said that admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes to the Olympics is "betrayal of the Olympic spirit" and a "monumental mistake". “They have a gold medal in the deportation of children and rape of women,” he pointed out.

On February 1, the International Olympic Committee announced that it would maintain the sanctions against Russian and Belarusian athletes that were approved in December 2022.

Former coach of the Ukrainian national football team Andriy Shevchenko has appealed to the IOC and urged to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions until the war in Ukraine is over.

On February 3, Poland and the Baltic states issued a joint statement opposing the return of Russians and Belarusians to the Olympics. On February 7, they were joined by five Scandinavian countries.

On February 6, the Verkhovna Rada called on the IOC to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Games in Paris.

On February 10, a summit of 35 countries took place in the United Kingdom, calling for the banning of Russians from the 2024 Olympics, which was supported by Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his speech at the meeting.

On February 20, 34 countries supported the demand to suspend athletes from Russia and Belarus from the Olympics.

On February 21, the IOC called the European Parliament's resolution demanding the suspension of Russians and Belarusians from international competitions contrary to the mission of the Olympic Games.

On March 30, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers decided that Ukrainian athletes would boycott tournaments featuring athletes from Russia or Belarus. 

On April 25, PACE President Tiny Kox called it unacceptable for Russians and Belarusians to participate in the 2024 Olympics because of Russia's war against Ukraine.

Later, Andriy Chesnokov, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine for European Integration, said that Ukrainian athletes would be allowed to compete individually at the 2024 Olympics if the Ukrainian national team boycotted the Games because of the possible admission of Russians and Belarusians.

On June 23, PACE adopted a resolution calling on the IOC to ban athletes from Belarus and Russia from the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024, even under a neutral flag.

On July 8, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) approved the participation of up to 500 Russian and Belarusian athletes at this year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. The move can pave the way for Russian and Belarusian qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

On July 13, the IOC reported that Russia and Belarus would not receive a formal invitation to participate in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

On July 26, the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine published a new order allowing Ukrainian athletes to participate in competitions where Russians and Belarusians are competing in a neutral status.

In August, Huttsait said that Ukraine would compete at the 2024 Olympics even if Russians and Belarusians participate in the Games in a neutral status.


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