28th February 2022
The International Olympic Committee is calling on sports federations and event organisers to ban all athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The unprecedented move comes four days before the Winter Paralympics are due to get underway in Beijing. NEW
The decision was made by the IOC’s Executive Board, which had already strongly condemned Russia and its neighbour Belarus for supporting the invasion.
One of the first to respond is expected to be football’s world governing body, FIFA, which is set to suspend Russia until further notice.
The IOC said it had made the decision to call for a ban on the athletes and officials from all international sporting events “with a heavy heart”.
“The Olympic Movement is united in its mission to contribute to peace through sport and to unite the world in peaceful competition beyond all political disputes,” a statement said.
“The Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, World Championships and World Cups and many other sports events unite athletes of countries which are in confrontation and sometimes even war.
“At the same time, the Olympic Movement is united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they are not actively participating in them. We are committed to fair competitions for everybody without any discrimination.
“The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma. While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.
“This is a dilemma which cannot be solved.”
The IOC now says that, to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and the safety of all participicants, it recommends that international sports federations and event organisers “not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarussian athletes and officials in international competitions”.
In extreme circumstances, if this isn’t possible for organisational or legal reasons, the IOC says everything should be done to ensure no athletes or officials take part under the name of Russia or Belarus but instead are accepted as neutrals.
No national symbols, colours, flags or anthems should be used.
It is unclear what this will mean for the 2022 Winter Paralympics which begin on Friday 4th March.
The IOC statement says simply that it has “reiterated its full support for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the Games”.
The International Paralympic Committee is to meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation.
Last Friday, the International Ski Federation announced it was cancelling all remaining World Cup snowsports competitions due to be held in Russia.
It did not, however, ban Russian snowsports athletes or officials from taking part in international events.
Norway, which topped the medals table at the Beijing Winter Olympics, followed up with a call for a ban on Russians.
The International Olympic Commitee has also withdrawn the Olympic Order from the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak.
“The IOC EB welcomes and appreciates the many calls for peace by athletes, sports officials and members of the worldwide Olympic Community. The IOC admires and supports in particular the calls for peace by Russian athletes,” it adds.
“The IOC EB reaffirms its full solidarity with the Ukrainian Olympic Community. They are in our hearts and thoughts. The IOC EB commits to continue and strengthen its efforts for humanitarian assistance.”
The IOC has set up a solidarity fund and says it is continuing to monitor the situation closely.