Russian and Belarusian athletes are barred from some international sports competitions, including soccer and ice hockey, after the International Olympic Committee’s executive committee recommended bans to protect the integrity of events and the safety of other participants.
“The Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, World Championships and World Cups and many other sporting events bring together athletes from countries that are competing and sometimes even at war”, according to an IOC press release. “At the same time, the Olympic Movement is united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they do not actively participate in them. We are committed to fair competitions for all without any discrimination.
“The current war in Ukraine, however, places the Olympic Movement in a dilemma. While Russian and Belarusian athletes could continue to participate in sporting events, many Ukrainian athletes are prevented from doing so due to the attack on their country.
The IOC has not said how long it recommends banning athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus.
FIFA and World Curling were the first international sports federations under the Olympic umbrella to act after the IOC’s announcement.
FIFA and UEFA have said Russian national and club teams are suspended from their football competitions until further notice. If the Olympic football qualifiers reflect those of the last cycle, the ban is expected to continue until the second half of this year for Russia to potentially be knocked out of the 2024 men’s or women’s Olympic qualifiers.
World Curling has announced that, barring objections from its member associations within the next three days, it will withdraw Russia from the upcoming world championships. The men’s, women’s and mixed doubles world championships are scheduled over the next two months. Belarus did not qualify for any of these events.
Later on Monday, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced that Russia and Belarus were banned from international competition until further notice, which could rule them out of the world championships.
World Rugby also suspended Russia and Belarus until further notice.
Russian athletes are already banned from competing under the Russian flag in major international competitions until December due to the country’s doping violations, but they have been able to compete as neutral athletes or under the name of the Russian Olympic Committee or of their national federations.
Last Friday, the IOC commission urged all international competitions scheduled in Russia or Belarus to be canceled or moved. Earlier in the day, the International Ski Federation announced that it would cancel or move until the end of March six stages of the World Cup which were to be held in Russia.
The IOC said on Friday that Russia, by invading Ukraine, and Belarus, whose government supported Russia, had violated the Olympic Truce, which calls for peace over a period from seven days before the Olympics to seven days after the Paralympic Games. The Paralympic Games open on Friday and run until March 13.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has not announced a decision on the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and plans to discuss the issue at a board meeting scheduled for Wednesday. A spokesperson said it was as soon as possible as the members traveled to Beijing this week.
“The IPC recognizes the statement made earlier by the IOC Executive Board and has maintained a close dialogue with the IOC regarding the violation of the Olympic truce,” an IPC spokesperson said on Monday.
The spokesman also said that none of the 20 Ukrainian athletes have yet arrived for the Paralympics, but they hope the team will arrive before Friday’s opening ceremony, although there are no flight from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. according to the Associated Press.
“It is a truly horrific situation, and we are very concerned about our National Paralympic Committee and the para-athletes of Ukraine,” the IPC President said. Andrew Parson said Thursday in a press release. “Our top priority at this time is the safety and well-being of the Ukrainian delegation, with whom we are in regular dialogue.”
The IOC and the IPC are separate organizations.
If upcoming competitions are unable to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials due to short notice or for legal reasons, the IOC Commission has urged organizers to only accept them as neutral participants without national symbols, colors, flags or anthems.
“Whenever, in very extreme circumstances, even this is not possible at short notice for organizational or legal reasons, the IOC EB leaves it up to the organization concerned to find its own way of effectively resolving the dilemma,” the statement said.
In this context, the IOC has fully supported the way the IPC decides on the participation of Russia and Belarus on short notice in the next Paralympic Winter Games.
On Sunday, many Ukrainian athletes written in an open letter to the presidents of the IOC and IPC calling on athletes from Russia and Belarus to be banned from international competitions, including the Paralympic Games which open on Friday.
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