Ukraine crisis: IOC asks organisers to exclude Russian, Belarus sportspersons from international events

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has asked International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not to invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The IOC has made this recommendation following a meeting of the Executive Board (EB) on Monday, just a few days before the start of the Winter Paralympic Games starting on March 4 in Beijing.

The IOC also recommended that in case it is not possible to exclude them at such short notice, it asked the IFs and event organisers to ensure that the Russian and Belarus nationals take part as “neutral participants” and not under their respective national flags.

“Wherever this is not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons, the IOC EB strongly urges International Sports Federations and organisers of sports events worldwide to do everything in their power to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus. Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams. No national symbols, colours, flags, or anthems should be displayed,” the IOC said in a release on Monday.

Though its approach has always been not to penalise sportspersons for the decisions taken by their respective governments, the IOC said in case of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Belarus government’s support to it, the IOC said it has decided to change its approach because sportspersons from Ukraine are unable to reach Beijing for the Winter Paralympic Games.

“The IOC EB welcomes and appreciates the many calls for peace by athletes, sports officials and members of the worldwide Olympic Community. The IOC admires and supports in particular the calls for peace by Russian athletes,” the release said.

“The IOC EB reaffirms its full solidarity with the Ukrainian Olympic Community. They are in our hearts and thoughts. The IOC EB commits to continue and strengthen its efforts for humanitarian assistance. Therefore, the IOC EB has today established a solidarity fund. In this context, the IOC expresses its gratitude to the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Sports Federations that are already supporting Ukrainian athletes and their families,” the release added.

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