Russian and Belarusian athletes are not yet guaranteed the chance to take part in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics, according to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
Bach has declared that there is no date set for the IOC to make their decision, meaning they could miss out on the Olympic Games in France.
There are currently around 100,000 athletes who are training to earn a spot in the Olympic Games, and around 10,000 will be successful in their bid to qualify in the next year and a half.
However, there is no clarity over whether athletes from Russian and Belarus will be able to enter the qualification process or the Games themselves.
Currently Russian and Belarusian athletes and teams face a range of sporting and travel sanctions, with those who compete often doing so under a neutral flag. Events in Russia, such as the Formula One Grand Prix, are currently not being held.
The sanctions were introduced after Russia invaded Ukraine in February earlier this year, doing so with the assistance of Belarus’ dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko, with recent reports suggesting the country’s army may be requested to join the war.
“This requires further consultations – they are ongoing and there is no fixed date,” Bach said at a virtual press conference after a meeting of the IOC Executive Board.
“The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian state and government must firmly remain in place. These sanctions were imposed because of the breach of the Olympic truce, which means also a breach of the Olympic charter.”
At the moment, the ICO does not permit anthems, flags or national insignia of the two countries to be displayed. The IOC has claimed that not allowing athletes from the two countries to compete constitutes “protective measures”.
“We are about to explore ways how we can come back to this unifying mission and how we can avoid sport being fully politicised, taken over by political interests,” Bach added.
International sanctions on Russia and Belarus have only been strengthened over the past year as a result of the invasion, and neither Ukraine nor Russia appear ready to open negotiations to bring the war to a close, meaning there is little discussion of sporting sanctions being relaxed away from the Olympics.
The 2023 Formula One calendar was recently announced to confirm another year without a Russian Grand Prix.
Bach also criticised the British government for “interfering” over the participation of Russian athletes at Wimbledon this year.
“We had the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the US Open in tennis. We have Russian athletes participating in the NHL. They are cheered upon by the fans, everybody happy,” Bach said.
“On the other hand we had Wimbledon, the British government interfering and forcing the Wimbledon organisers to exclude Russian and Belarusian players.
“This is the situation we are in and this is the situation we have to overcome so that the international competitions can really be comparable and can be fair and just for everybody.
“Governments should not decide on political grounds who is participating in which sports events.”
Read the full article here