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Paris Olympics: Thirty Countries Challenge IOC Over 'Neutral' Russian Athletes


Last Updated: February 21, 2023, 07:32 IST


Paris will play host to the Olympics next year. (AFP Photo)

Paris will play host to the Olympics next year. (AFP Photo)

The International Olympic Committee is mulling over ways to allow Russian athletes to compete at the next year's Summer Games to be held in Paris

Governments of more than 30 countries asked the IOC for “clarification" Monday over how Russian and Belarusian athletes would be able to compete as neutral athletes in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Russia and its ally Belarus, which allowed its territory to be used as a launchpad when Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine last February, have been sidelined from most Olympic sports since the war began.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it is exploring a “pathway" to allow Russian and Belarusian competitors to take part in the Paris Games, under a neutral flag — sparking fury from Ukraine.

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But in a joint letter seen by AFP, the countries expressed concern particularly given the “strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military".

“We have strong concerns on how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as ‘neutrals’… when they are directly funded and supported by their states," said the letter seen by AFP.

It said that “these strong concerns need to be dealt with by the IOC."

The joint letter to the IOC follows a summit earlier this month in London attended by France, Britain, the United States and Canada, among others.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also spoke at the conference.

“We firmly believe that, given there has been no change in the situation regarding the Russian aggression in Ukraine… there is no practical reason to move away from the exclusion regime for Russian and Belarusian athletes set by the IOC," the letter read.

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“As long as these fundamental issues and the substantial lack of clarity and concrete detail on a workable ‘neutrality’ model are not addressed, we do not agree that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed back into competition," the letter concluded.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed - AFP)
first published:February 21, 2023, 07:32 IST
last updated:February 21, 2023, 07:32 IST