Russian athletes not supporting Ukraine invasion could return to competing: IOC President

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

In February, the IOC instructed sports governing organisations to exclude Russian and Belarusian competitors from competing. Russia’s invasion, which Moscow refers to as a “special military operation,” was staged in Belarus. 

“It is not about necessarily having Russia back. It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

“Here comes our dilemma – this war has not been started by the Russian athletes. But we saw that some governments did not want to respect anymore the autonomy of international sports… This is why we’ve had to take these protective measures to be at least still a little bit in the driving seat and not lose all autonomy. And this is why, on the other hand, we also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever,” he added.

The German emphasised that the existing advice for Russian athletes remained valid, but he also said that the IOC needed to consider the future. Olympic qualifying competitions for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris have already begun. 

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

“The Olympic Movement has as 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, as something that still unifies people and humanity,” he continued.

(with inputs from agencies)

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