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International Olympic Committee recommends return of individual Russian, Belarusian athletes to competition

Thirteen months after Russia started its war on Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday recommended the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to sports competitions with certain exceptions.

But in a statement, the IOC also postponed a decision on both nations’ athletes participating in the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, saying: “The committee expressly reserves the right to decide about their participation at the appropriate time.”

The committee recommended that athletes with a Russian or a Belarusian passport must compete only as Individual Neutral Athletes with an exception for athletes who actively support the Ukraine war or are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies. These individuals should not be able to compete at all, the IOC recommended.

Teams of athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports should not be considered, the committee added.

The statement was made following the request of the Olympic Summit last December, where extensive consultations and discussions took place with all Olympic Movement stakeholders: IOC members, the National Olympic Committees, and the global network of athletes’ representatives, among others.

Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states on Monday called for the continued exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Olympics, saying there is “not a single reason” to backtrack on the current restrictions.

On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia launched a war on Ukraine, triggering international outrage, with the EU, US, and UK, among others, imposing tough sanctions on Moscow.

Belarus, which neighbors Russian to the east and Ukraine to the south, has supported Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

Since the start of the war, Russian and Belarussian athletes have been banned or restricted from various competitions worldwide.

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