More than 30 countries in Olympics stand-off


The governments of 34 countries issued a press release asking the IOC to make clear the definition of “neutrality” because it seeks a option to enable Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to worldwide sport and, ultimately, subsequent yr. Paris Olympics,

“Until these fundamental issues and the substantial lack of readability and concrete substance on a workable ‘neutrality’ model are addressed, we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to return to competition ,” read the statements .

The signatories to the statement included officials from the US, UK, France, Canada and Germany. These five countries brought in about a fifth of all athletes to the Tokyo Games in 2021. Other countries that had suggested an Olympic boycott if the war continues – such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Denmark – also signed on. Assertion, which did not go so far as to say boycott.

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The statement was the product of a February 10 summit in London between government leaders, which heard from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky said Russian athletes had no place at the Paris Games as long as the country’s invasion of Ukraine continued.

The Worldwide Olympic Committee is exploring a strategy to allow Russians in the Olympics, citing the opinion of UN human rights advisers who believe that Russians and Belarusians should not face discrimination simply for maintaining passports. The IOC wants competitors from countries that have not supported the conflict to be able to compete as independent athletes, with their countries’ symbols not allowed.

An IOC spokeswoman said the committee has already begun the process of determining the conditions under which Russians can compete in international competition if, in fact, it decides to proceed on the current path.

It is a decision that needs clarity long before next summer’s Olympics as the 2023 Olympics marks the start of the qualifying period. Russia and Belarus, traditionally considered part of Europe in the international sporting system, have been invited to compete in some Asian qualifiers later this year. The following IOC Government Board meeting is set for March 28-30.

On the US side, Assistant Secretary of State Lee Setterfield signed the statement. In a separate statement, he stressed the need for the IOC to provide clarity on the definition of neutrality.

“The United States will continue to join a large group of countries in holding Russia and Belarus — and the bad actors who determined their actions — to account for this brutal conflict,” Satterfield said. “Russia has proven time and time again, it has no regard and is incapable of abiding by the rules – in international sport and international law.”

Acknowledging that there was a rationale for them to compete as independent athletes, government officials noted in the joint statement how closely sports and politics are intertwined in Russia and Belarus. Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago and Belarus has been Russia’s closest ally.

“We now have strong views on how possible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutrals’ – with no IOC identification with their country – when they are immediately recognized by their states. are funded and supported (unlike, for example, experienced tennis players),” the statement said. “The strong links and associations between Russian athletes and the Russian military are also a matter of obvious concern. Our collective strategy is therefore never There has also not been a discrimination based only on nationality, but these strong views must be addressed by the IOC.

When the conflict began, the IOC actually recommended sports organizations to ban Russians from competitions, labeling it as a measure to protect these athletes. That stance changed earlier this year. Last week, IOC President Thomas Bach said that the IOC stood in solidarity with athletes from Ukraine, but also that sport must respect the human rights of all athletes.

“Historical past will show who is doing extra work for peace. Those who try to keep tensions open, to talk, or who seek to isolate or divide,” Bach stated.

Additionally final week, EU lawmakers condemned the IOC’s efforts to re-induct Russia into world sporting actions. The EU parliament urged the 27 member states to strain the IOC to reverse its resolution, saying the Olympic physique’s strategy was “disrespectful to the worldwide world of sport”.

In Monday’s statement, calling for clarity from the IOC, the fastest way for Russia to get back on the global sporting scene would be to “finish the battle they began”.

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