Olympics 2024: IOC seeks path to allow Russian, Belarusian athletes to compete

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stated it will “explore a pathway” for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate neutrally at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The IOC has requested federations exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy commented that Russian athletes should have "no place" at the Paris Games.

Nevertheless, the IOC's statement on Wednesday could allow them to compete.

“No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport”, stated the committee.

Athletes for the Ukraine and athlete association Global Athlete have released a joint statement condemning the move.

The statement says the decision shows the IOC “endorses Russia's brutal war and invasion of Ukraine”.

“The return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competition, especially the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, will see the Russian state use athletes once more to bolster the war effort and distract from the atrocities in Ukraine on one of the biggest multi-sport stages in the world,” the statement added.

The IOC outlined that involvement at the games which would also include qualification events, would require athletes to take part as neutrals “and in no way represent their state or any other organisation in their country”.

The committee further detailed that the athletes must not have “acted against the peace mission of the IOC by actively supporting the war in Ukraine”.

IOC President Thomas Bach commented in December that the committee had faced a “big dilemma” in attempting to avoid the issue of athletes suffering from sporting sanctions.

Not all sporting federations have abided by the IOC’s recommendation, and have allowed individual athletes to compete as neutrals.

Two Belarusian tennis players, Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka reached the latter stages of the Australian Open, where both are competing as neutrals.