The International Olympic Committee declined to make a decision on Tuesday on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, beginning two days of meetings in Switzerland by focusing on other issues.
Shortly after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year, the I.O.C. recommended that athletes from Russia and Belarus be barred from international competitions, citing “safety” and “integrity.” That would break from the organization’s typical stance that athletes should not be punished for their governments’ actions, but the organization has indicated that it might change its policy for the Paris games.
The I.O.C.’s president, Thomas Bach, said in December that he hoped there could be a way to include athletes from Russia and Belarus, which has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In an address at the start of the meeting on Tuesday, he argued for the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes under neutral flags.
But Mr. Bach said at a news conference later on Tuesday that the I.O.C. executive board did not consider whether athletes from the two countries would compete in Paris or in the 2026 Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
“The I.O.C. will take this decision at the appropriate time,” he said.
Though there was no clarity on Olympic participation, the board unveiled new recommendations for international federations, which run other global sporting events, on whether to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete. The recommendations are aimed at creating a “pathway” for such athletes to take part in international competitions but include preventing teams of athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports from participating, and not allowing athletes who actively support the war in Ukraine or are contracted to military or national security agencies to take part.
After the I.O.C.’s executive board met in January, the group said in a statement that “no athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” and added that a pathway for allowing athletes from the two nations to compete should be “further explored.”
Athletes from Russia, a country banned from the Olympics since 2019, are allowed to compete under the Russian Olympic Committee, but they cannot use their flag or anthem.
In February, Ukraine threatened to boycott the Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to participate. If international sports officials do not bar the athletes, Vadym Guttsait, Ukraine’s sports minister, said that Ukraine should skip the Olympics.
Some have suggested that the athletes compete under neutral flags instead of those of their home countries. But President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that is not enough. “One cannot try to be neutral when the foundations of peaceful life are being destroyed and universal human values are being ignored,” he said in December.
Some sports organizations have set a hard line. Last week, World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, voted to continue to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in events.
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