The IOC gave recommendations on the return of the Russians to the competition

The IOC has published recommendations for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to competitions

The International Olympic Committee issued recommendations on the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions on Tuesday.

The recommendations of the IOC refer only to international competitions and not to the Olympic Games in Paris in July 2024, the question of possible participation will be decided later.

This follows four months of consultations and discussions with all stakeholders of the Olympic Movement: IOC members, National Olympic Committees (NOCs), IFs (International Federations) and athlete representatives.

The IOC Executive Board in February 2022 recommended the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions after the invasion of Ukraine.

In March 2022, World Aquatics – then FINA – banned athletes from participating in the World Championships in Budapest, after which the Russian Swimming Federation withdrew its swimmers from all FINA competitions until the end of the year.

These countries were also excluded from hosting international events, which resulted in Kazan being replaced by Melbourne as the host of the 2022 Short Course World Championships.

This followed a statement by European body LEN that Russian and Belarusian athletes would not be allowed to compete “until further notice”.

However, the IOC has made it clear that it wants athletes to return to competition as neutrals, which will essentially pave the way for them to compete in Paris.

Ukraine’s Sports Minister Vadim Gutsait, who is also the president of the Olympic Committee, has previously said the country could boycott the Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete, with President Volodymyr Zelensky calling for them to be excluded.

IOC Recommendations for International Federations and Event Organizers

Athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport must only compete as neutral athletes in the individual competition. Teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport are not considered. Athletes who actively support the war cannot compete. Auxiliary personnel who actively support the war cannot be brought in. Athletes working under contract with the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies cannot compete. Auxiliary personnel working under contract with the Russian or Belarusian military or national security services cannot be entered. Any such individual neutral Athlete, like all other participating Athletes, must comply with all anti-doping requirements that apply to them, in particular those set forth in the IF Anti-Doping Rules.

Sanctions will remain in place, under which events will not be held in Russia or Belarus; no flag or anthem will be flown, and no Russian or Belarusian government or government official will be invited or accredited to any international sporting event or meeting.

referring to Romanchuk’s statement; Scott wants Ban to stay

Mikhail Romanchuk: Photo courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

There was widespread opposition to World Athletics maintaining its ban on Russians and Belarusians for the foreseeable future due to the war.

Speaking to World of Swimming last week ahead of today’s IOC announcement, Olympic champion Duncan Scott said of their potential participation in Paris:

“I think they should probably take the same position as last year.

“I don’t understand why change it, given that the circumstances are exactly the same, and there should be rules everywhere that can turn them off, and we really need to stop this.

“I don’t think it should change at all from what it was last year.

“I think it should be the same in my eyes: if there hasn’t been any change in what is happening, then why should our views on it change?”

The World of Swimming was present in Budapest last June when Mikhail Romanchuk warned against any leniency or mitigation of Russia’s ouster.

He was directly affected by the war in which his father fought the Russians in the east of the country, and he wondered what his own reaction would be if he had to face athletes from these countries.

In particular, he pointed to two-time Olympic champion Yevgeny Rylov, who was pictured at Vladimir Putin’s rally at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in March 2022 with a military symbol in the shape of the letter “Z” on his clothes.

The Ukrainian, having won 800 free bronzes, said:

“If someone says that sport is not politics, sport is the biggest politics.

“Unfortunately, it’s true – it’s the right decision that there are no Russians here, because if I see one of the Russian guys, I don’t know how I will react to them.

“I don’t know: my reaction, perhaps, would have been aggressive, I don’t know, especially when the guy on the back (Evgeny Rylov) joined (Putin’s rally).

“Inwardly, I was ready to go and kill him, but he used to be a good friend, but things have changed.”

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