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IOC allows Russian athletes to take part in the Olympics - under a neutral flag

For a long time, the IOC played for time on the issue of Russian athletes competing at the Summer Games. Now the governing body is making its decision.

The Russian flag in front of the Olympic
The Russian flag in front of the Olympic

Paris 2024 - IOC allows Russian athletes to take part in the Olympics - under a neutral flag

Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to take part in the Olympic Games in Paris as neutral athletes. The head of the International Olympic Committee granted individual athletes from both countries permission to compete in the 2024 Summer Games on Friday, subject to certain conditions, provided they meet the qualification requirements. In doing so, the IOC was responding to a request from the international summer sports federations and the national Olympic committees to finally make a decision on this issue, which has been controversial since the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.

As is already the case for the return to international competitions, the condition is that Russians and Belarusians may only participate in Paris under a neutral flag. Teams are not permitted. This means that the national anthems of the athletes from Russia and Belarus may not be played at the Olympics in Paris, and national symbols and flags are also prohibited.

IOC demands commitment to the Olympic peace mission

Furthermore, these athletes must not have any connection to the army or security forces and must not have actively shown their support for the war in Ukraine. The anti-doping guidelines must also be fulfilled. As an additional condition, the IOC requires all athletes to make a written commitment to the Olympic Charter and thus also to the "peace mission of the Olympic Movement".

According to the IOC, eight Russians and three Belarusians have so far qualified for the Olympics in Paris. More than 60 Ukrainians are among the 4600 athletes already eligible to take part.

Following Russia's attack on Ukraine, Russians and Belarusians were initially excluded from international sports competitions. Belarus supports Russia in the conflict. However, the IOC, led by German President Thomas Bach, had already reopened the door to the major sporting stages for both countries in the spring and defined the framework for participation in competitions.

DOSB also pleads for participation of Russian athletes

This should also enable the athletes to fulfill the qualification criteria for the Summer Games. A number of world federations have followed the IOC's guidelines in recent months and allowed Russians and Belarusians to participate again.

However, the governing body had left the decision on Olympic participation open until the last minute. In September, the International Paralympic Committee also lifted its complete ban on Russia and allowed Russian disabled athletes to compete at the Paralympics in Paris under a neutral flag. This was already seen as a harbinger of a corresponding decision by the IOC.

The German Olympic Sports Confederation had also recently changed its course with reference to the majority opinion in international sport and argued in favor of Russians and Belarusians competing in Paris. "If Germany were the only country to oppose Russians and Belarusians competing under a neutral flag, there would be no international sporting events in our country," explained DOSB President Thomas Weikert.

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