Russia and Belarus must remain sanctioned, says IOC president Bach

By Sports Desk December 07, 2022

Russian and Belarusian athletes are not yet sure of being able to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said sporting sanctions against the nations must remain in place.

The two nations have been excluded from world sport in varying guises since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, with both banned from March's Winter Paralympics.

Athletes were allowed to compete under a neutral flag then, and Bach says he does not wish for them to suffer as a result of sanctions against the pair.

But Bach stressed those penalties cannot be relaxed amid the continued conflict in Eastern Europe.

"The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian state and government must firmly remain in place," he said at the IOC's executive board meeting in Lausanne.

"These sanctions were imposed because of the breach of the Olympic truce, which means also a breach of the Olympic charter."

Bach conceded, however, the IOC did not wish for athletes representing both nations to be barred from competing entirely in France.

"I will never get tired enough to repeat, to make it clear all over again, that this question of the participation of athletes is very different to the question of sanctions for their government," he added.

"The position of the Olympic Movement was always, is and remains, that athletes cannot be punished for acts of their government as long as they do not contribute to it or support it.

"Therefore the question of athletes participation was always a protective measure, and not part of the sanction, to safeguard the integrity of international sports competition and to ensure safety of athletes from these two countries."

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