(Sports news) International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has said that Russia and Belarus must continue to face sporting sanctions but says sport faces a “big dilemma” in ensuring that athletes don’t suffer as a result. Earlier, the IOC asked sports federations to exclude athletes, officials and teams from Russia and Belarus from international events. However, Bach has changed his tone now by saying the “unifying mission of sport” must be restored.
“We are a sports organisation with our mission to be a unifying factor, we are about to explore ways how we can come back to this unifying mission, and how we can avoid sport being fully politicised and being taken over by political interests, because these are two different areas of our society. The sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian state and government must firmly remain in place. These sanctions were imposed because of the breach of the Olympic truce, which also means a breach of the Olympic charter.”Thomas Bach
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the players from Russia and Belarus were banned from March’s Winter Paralympics although athletes were allowed to compete under a neutral flag. Russian football clubs and the national team were also banned from competitions organised by FIFA and UEFA. Further sanctions were imposed in Formula 1, rugby, cycling, swimming and tennis with Russian and Belarusian players banned from Wimbledon this year. However, Bach said that the Committee was conscious of how the sporting sanctions could affect the athletes at the conclusion of the IOC’s executive board meeting in Lausanne.
“The sanctions and solidarity, there was no big debate but we had a debate then which took several hours about the athletes and what the impact of this war is on the athletes. 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.Thomas Bach
“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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