Five Russian neighbors have urged five Olympic chiefs to declare Tuesday that Russia should block all Russians from participating in the Paris Games.
The governments of Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Lithuania are likely to ignore the pleas.
In recent weeks, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, has insisted that Russians shouldn’t be discriminated against because they are Russians – regardless Vladimir Putin‘s ongoing war with Ukraine.
This is a softening in Mr Bach’s position following the full-scale invasion and occupation of Ukraine in February 2022. At that time, a blanket ban was favored on Russians. The Olympic Charter authority allows any athlete to be refused entry without explanation.
The IOC’s willingness to allow Russians at Paris 2024 to compete as neutrals was rejected by World Athletics last week. World Athletics is the largest Olympic sport and has imposed a total ban, as requested by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President.
The IOC’s executive boards will discuss the issue again on Tuesday. It is listed on the agenda to review the feedback received from athletes and officials worldwide.
Although the IOC has yet to resolve its position for Paris, Bach stated his stance in Germany last week: “If sports and athletes are used as tools of politics, then politics will decide who can participate in a competition.”
This was a rebuke for the politicians, including in Britain who demanded that no Russian athlete – or war ally Belarusian – be allowed to compete at the Olympics.
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, Poland, as well as Ukraine, reminded the IOC Monday that Russian military attacked civilian infrastructures, including sports facilities, and stated: “Many Ukrainian athletes are still prohibited from participating in sporting events due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.”
They did offer a way for Russians and Belarussians to return to international sports: “Ending Russia’s war of aggression with the complicity and restoration of respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders.”
The IOC sought the guidance of Alexandra Xanthaki (UN special rapporteur on cultural rights), who met with 188 athletes around the globe last week.
Russian athletes can compete “doing more to promote peace” – IOC boss
An international law expert suggested that Russian soldiers could be allowed to Paris 2024. He also proposed that neutral status should not be denied to anyone accused of war crimes, genocide or propaganda for warfare.
She said that conscripted people can fight, but they are “following orders.”
However, athletes from Ukraine are challenging her analysis.
Although a boycott of the Games was suggested, it wasn’t directly threatened by any countries outraged at the IOC position.
The focus right now is to persuade the IOC not to go backwards.
Estonia, Lithuania Latvia, Poland and Ukraine stated in a joint statement that “it is not their nationality that determines the role of athletes.”