Will we see Russian and Belarusian athletes in neutral uniforms at the Paris Olympics? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not yet made a decision on the matter, while qualifications for many Olympic disciplines are already underway.
Will we see Russian and Belarusian athletes in neutral uniforms at the Paris Olympics? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that it will not set a concrete framework to decide on this issue and, meanwhile, qualifications for many Olympic disciplines are already underway.
What awaits the athletes?
“Since 1992 the era of boycotts is over. But now the situation is new with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the IOC is trying to find a balance by allowing the presence of athletes from Russia and Belarus as neutral athletes. But since there is a lot of resistance by many federations. I think we would only see a very limited presence of athletes from those two countries,” says Daniel Reiche, Visiting Associate Professor Georgetown University Qatar and expert on sports and politics
In March, the IOC proposed that Russian and Belarusian athletes who did not publicly support the war in Ukraine and were not associated with the military could participate as neutrals. But many federations have not yet developed criteria. Furthermore, the IOC recommendations do not apply to the Olympic Games.
“The IOC made it clear that no one who was in the military or who publicly supported the war would be allowed into the Olympics. So this sets the bar pretty high already,” Reiche said.
The IOC has already carried out the traditional distribution of invitations among the National Olympic Committees. 203 countries are invited, Russia and Belarus are not among them. Experts suggest that the IOC will make a decision as late as possible, most likely in the spring of 2024. Eligible athletes may not have time to qualify.
How legitimate is it? Does it violate the principle of separation between sport and politics?
“It is a very critical decision and situation, it is not the only conflict in the world. And also do not forget that many Russian and Belarusian athletes are not in favor of the war. So it is very difficult to answer the question of where to draw the line. The IOC tries to find an agreement that satisfies everyone”, concludes Professor Daniel Reiche.