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IOC take ‘step by step’ approach to fate of Russian athletes

The International Olympic Committee will reassess “step by step” the fate of Russian athletes excluded from most international competitions after the invasion of Ukraine, IOC president Thomas Bach said Friday.

“We have to take it step by step. We don’t know how the political situation evolves, we hope that there will be peace soon, hopefully as soon as possible,” Bach told IOC members at a meeting in Lausanne. 

While most international federations followed the IOC’s recommendation in February to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes, the question is already being asked over their participation in the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

But the Olympic body refuses to project itself so far and only promised to “take the appropriate action if the situation were to change,” according to Bach. 

“We can just monitor the situation. This is up to the political world to take these decisions and then we will see when the time comes if that situation should change, then we will take the appropriate actions,” he said. 

“We are having many consultations within the Olympic movement.

“The top priority is our humanitarian mission, we are focusing very strongly on the humanitarian assistance for the Ukrainian Olympic community, whether they still live in Ukraine or whether they have taken refuge in other countries.

“Let me emphasise again that these are protective measures – not sanctions – measures to protect the integrity of competitions.

“The safety of the Russian and Belarusian athletes taking part in international competitions could not be guaranteed because of the deep anti-Russian and anti-Belarusian feelings in so many countries following the invasion.”

The IOC’s argument is all the more important since many of these exclusion measures have been challenged by Russian authorities before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has yet to examine these appeals.

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