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IOC ratifies Russia-Belarus sanctions after Paris 2024 concerns

Amid outcry over the potential inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes at Paris 2024, the IOC has reiterated its stance on sanctions.

This photograph taken on November 15, 2022, in Paris, shows the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games official logo, displayed in the official Paris 2024 shop in Les Halles shopping mall in central Paris. - The Olympic and Paralympic mascots are named "Les Phryges" and represent French revolutionary Phrygian caps. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reiterated it will stand by the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus after appearing to open the door for their inclusion at the Paris 2024 Games. The two nations are currently banned from Olympic competition following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. But IOC statements last month appeared to clear a pathway for the inclusion of athletes from both countries to compete under a neutral flag.

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Now, however, the governing body has sought to clarify its position - in particular as a response to recent comments made by Stanislav Pozdnyakov, head of Russia’s Olympic Committee. Pozdnyakov told Russia’s state news agency TASS, “Russians must participate on the same conditions as athletes from other countries. We do not welcome additional conditions and criteria, especially those that include some kind of political component that is absolutely unacceptable for the Olympic Movement”.

The IOC was quick to respond, issuing a statement which read: “The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian States and Governments are not negotiable. They have been unanimously confirmed by the recent Olympic Summit meeting on 9 December 2022.”

Sanctions reiterated by the IOC include no international sports events being organised or supported in either country by a National Olympic Committee. In addition, no sports meeting or event is allowed to fly Russian and Belarusian flags or colours, while government and state officials are barred from attendance.

Ukraine threatens to boycott Paris Games

The decision to potentially let athletes from both countries compete next year has enraged Ukraine, who could boycott the event in protest. President Volodymyr Zelensky doubled down on criticism of the IOC, stating that the inclusion of Russian or Belarusian athletes would effectively “tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable”.

Russian athletes competed under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee rather than their country at Tokyo 2020 amid a suspension from the World Anti-Doping Agency.