Russian athletes who don’t support invading Ukraine could return to competition: IOC president

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According to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Friday, the IOC is considering allowing Russian athletes who oppose their country’s invasion of Ukraine to compete again.

In February, the IOC asked governing sports organizations to exclude Russian and Belarusian competitors from the competition. The Russian invasion, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation”, was staged in Belarus.

“It’s not necessarily about getting Russia back. It’s about getting athletes back into competition with Russian passports who don’t support the war,” Bach told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

“Here is our dilemma – this war was not started by Russian athletes. But we saw that some governments no longer wanted to respect the autonomy of international sport… That’s why we had to take these protective measures to be at least still a little in control and not lose all autonomy. And that is why, on the other hand, we must also see, and study, monitor, how and when we can return to accomplish our mission of bringing back everything the world, in whatever format,” he added.

The German stressed that existing advice for Russian athletes remains valid, but he also said the IOC must consider the future. The Olympic qualifying competitions for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris have already started.

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“There is no change in the recommendations… We are very grateful to the International Federations for following them,” added Bach.

“The Olympic Movement has a mission to contribute to peace, so we have to see how we can contribute to peace. I think our major contribution is to have the Olympic Games and to have a sport in general, like something that still unites people and humanity,” he continued.

(with contributions from agencies)


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