After meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday, Olympic chief Thomas Bach reiterated his appeal for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as individual neutrals.
This comes as a considerable boost to a number of prominent players on the WTA and ATP Tour who would be gutted to miss out on a shot at Olympic gold in Paris in 2024 including top ten men’s players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev and Belarus’ WTA world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka.
According to a statement from the Olympic organisation, both Bach and Macron spoke about the Paris Olympics in 2024 and reaffirmed that the decision about the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes will be “taken in due course by the IOC.”
Bach went over the requirements for the readmission of athletes barred from competing internationally since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 again on Friday, outside of a meeting with refugee athletes.
“It’s also very clear: no team and no delegations. It’s about individual neutral athletes who have to be entered as you can see here at Roland Garros,” Bach said of tennis players competing in the French Open.
“No Russian flag, no Russian anthem, no colours, no national identification whatsoever. And this is how these world championships have been working.
“More and more international federations are applying these conditions and this formula. So, at the end, I’m very confident the spirit of sport and this unique fighting spirit will prevail.”
The discussion around the reinstatement of Russians and Belarusians has remained contentious ever since the IOC decided to support their return in March.
The international federations are divided on the matter fourteen months before the Paris Olympics.
Ukraine has lodged formal protests against athletes from these countries being allowed back into the Olympic fold while Russian aggression on their territory continues.
Russia had run afoul of the IOC prior to the country invading its neighbour when it was shown that high-ranking officials in sport and government colluded in a massive doping programme.
However, most of Russia’s current top players have avoided being implicated in any sort of doping scandals.
The IOC have touted the Paris Olympics as the most-inclusive edition of the Games.
“The Olympic Games Paris 2024 will be Games of a new era, taking the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020 and Olympic Agenda 2020+5 fully into account,” an IOC statement read.
“The ‘Games wide open’ slogan will fully come to life at these Games. Paris 2024 will be the most inclusive Olympic Games, the most urban Olympic Games, the youngest Olympic Games, the most sustainable Olympic Games and the most gender-balanced Olympic Games in history, with full parity of female and male athletes.”
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