IOC president slams governments’ “deplorable” reactions
Olympics chief Thomas Bach criticized reactions of governments to the IOC’s call to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes compete in international sports.
On Tuesday, the International Olympics Committee president Thomas Bach said the Olympics would set a path for athletes from Russia and Belarus to be able to compete as individual athletes. He called the banning of them “a flagrant violation of human rights”. As long as the athletes were not supporters of the violent war that Russia launched on Ukraine, nor had any links to the military, they should be allowed to participate, he said. Last year, the IOC had decided to exclude all athletes and teams from Russia and Belarus.
Reactions to IOC allowing Russian/Belarusian athletes to participate in international sports
The push to bring back Russian and Belarusian athletes was met with widespread criticism. Thursday was the final day of a three-day meeting the IOC held to decide on how to support Ukraine and what sanctions they would place on Russia and Belarus. A decision on whether the Russian and Belarusian passport would allow athletes to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris had not been made, and that is still the case as of Thursday’s meeting, though the paths created could allow them to qualify to participate as neutral athletes.
Bach’s home country of Germany is one of the many to criticize the decision. Sports minister Nancy Fraeser called the change in decision “a slap in the face of Ukraine athletes.” Ukraine’s chief of staff Andriy Yermack was also defended the Ukrainian athletes, saying the IOC “prefers not to notice” that their citizens are dying for their country.
After hearing the immense criticism, Bach called those governments “deplorable” and cited the “double standard”, as athletes from several other countries with ongoing wars are allowed to participate without restrictions.
“We have taken note of some negative reactions by some European governments in particular,” Bach said. “It is deplorable that some governments don’t address the question of double standards with which we have been confronted. We have not seen a single comment from them about their attitude about the participation of athletes whose countries are involved in the other 70 wars and armed conflicts in the world.”
The final decision on whether Russian and Belarusians can compete in international sports will be up to the governing bodies of the individual sport.
“We will always make every effort not to punish athletes for misbehavior of their national governments,” said Bach. He said the IOC “strongly stands by its values and by its mission to unite the world in a peaceful competition.”
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