International Olympic Committee suspends Russia’s national committee

October 12, 2023

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Thursday that it has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, the IOC said a unilateral decision had been made last week after concluding that Russia had “violated the territorial integrity” of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ukraine when Russia attempted to include among its own members the occupied regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.

Such a move “constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter,” according to the IOC.

As result, the Russian Olympic Committee is no longer entitled to operate as a National Olympic Committee, and cannot receive any funding from the Olympic movement. 

Further, the IOC said it “reserves the right to decide about the participation of individual neutral athletes with a Russian passport in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 at the appropriate time.”

At present, the IOC is only allowing athletes from Russian and its closet ally Belarus to compete in the upcoming Paris games under neutral banners and has declined to give those two countries formal invitations to the games.

That revelation came amid some 34 nations requested that the IOC clarify the definition of “neutrality” regarding Russian and Belarusian athletes, with officials from the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and Germany signing a statement that read in part, “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 participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in world sports has been a point of controversy since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022. 

Earlier this week, for instance, Russian youth soccer players were banned from participating in Under-17 European Championship qualifying games this month by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in Switzerland.

And in July, the Czech Republic banned athletes from Russia and Belarus from competing in a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tournament in Prague. Czech police went so far as to stop at least one Russian player from entering the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the IOC to ban Russian athletes entirely. “The Olympic movement and terrorist states definitely should not cross paths,” Zelensky said in January.

PHOTO: International Olympic Committee HQ in Switzerland

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