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IOC Chief Defends Russians’ Right to Participate in International Competitions


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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Tuesday defended plans to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete as neutrals in international competitions and said their participation would take place “without problems.”

And after the International Olympic Committee imposed a fine on athletes from Russia and Belarus amid the Russian special forces operation in Ukraine in February 2022, it is determined to allow them to return to competition in all games and allow them to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The committee invited athletes from Russia and Belarus to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics by competing in the Asian qualifiers instead of the European qualifiers and competing as neutrals without using the flag or national anthem of each of the two countries, but she faced strong opposition led by Ukraine, who threatened to boycott the Olympics if they were allowed to compete even as neutrals.

Bach said in his speech before the start of the International Olympic Committee Executive Committee meeting at its headquarters in Lausanne: “The participation of athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports goes without problems.”

He added: “We see it almost every day in a number of sports, most notably tennis, but also in cycling and some table tennis competitions… We see it in ice hockey and other leagues in the United States, and also in Europe and we also see it on other continents.”

He continued: “There were no incidents at any of these championships that threatened the safety of the athletes.”

At the same time, Bach noted, the IOC will not be able to make a decision that completely suits all parties.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus in some games act as neutrals.

Source: “Wakalat”

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