IOC clears path for Russians to compete at Paris Olympics

© Laurent Gillieron, Reuters

The IOC made clear Wednesday it wants Russians to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics as neutral athletes, in defiance of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to exclude them entirely.

Citing a “unifying mission” during a time of war, the International Olympic Committee said no athlete should face discrimination based only on the passport they held.

“A pathway for athletes’ participation in competition under strict conditions should therefore be further explored,” the IOC said in a statement published after an executive board meeting. IOC president Thomas Bach did not hold his usual news conference after the meeting.

Russia was not directly condemned in the statement though athletes who have been “actively supporting the war in Ukraine” face being excluded from the Paris Olympics that open in 18 months’ time, the IOC said.

The IOC cited the example of Yugoslavians competing at the 1992 Barcelona Games — as “independent athletes” while the nation was under United Nations sanctions during a civil war.

The willingness of Olympic leaders to involve Russia and its military ally Belarus is likely to be met with dismay and anger in Kyiv.

Zelensky addressed the issue Tuesday after speaking with French president Emmanuel Macron, who helped campaign for the Paris Olympics when it was a bid candidate in 2017.

(AP)


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