IOC EB Issues Recommendations For Russian and Belarusian Athletes
At the 11th Olympic Summit held on December 9, 2022, the leaders of all Olympic Movement stakeholder groups had requested the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to explore how athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport could return to international competition as “Individual Neutral Athletes.” Olympic Movement stakeholders include the IOC Members, the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the International Federations (IFs) and the global network of athletes’ representatives.
Following four months of consultations with the Olympic Movement stakeholders, the International Olympic Committee Executive Branch (IOC EB) published a series of recommendations in response to their request. During these consultations, the IOC EB reaffirmed their support for Ukrainian athletes, chiefly through the IOC’s contributions to Solidarity Fund for the NOC of Ukraine. Having recently tripled to $7.5 million (USD), the Solidarity Fund has supported at least 3000 Ukrainian athletes and other Ukrainian Olympic community members.
Further, the IOC EB asserts that sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian governments for violations of the Olympic Truce must remain in place. These sanctions require the following:
- no international sports events be organized in Russia and Belarus;
- no flag, anthems or other national symbols whatsoever should be displayed at any international sports events; and
- no government or state officials should be accredited for or invited to any international sports events.
In recent consultations, the Olympic Movement stakeholders confirmed their rejection of political interference in international sports competitions of any kind and underscored the importance of the “autonomous authority” of sports organizations to decide on who participates in competitions.
Addressing protective measures for Russian and Belarusian athletes, the Olympic Movement stakeholders referred to the “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development” resolution (A/77L.28) of the United Nations General Assembly and published on November 23, 2022. In it, they argue that international sporting events should be organized in “the spirit of peace, mutual understanding and international cooperation, friendship and tolerance, without discrimination of any kind.” All UN Member States, including Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, passed this resolution unanimously. Considering these arguments, as well as ones made by the Court of Justice of the European Union and Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the IOC EB made the following recommendations to IFs and international sports event organizers:
- Athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport must only compete as Individual Neutral Athletes.
- Teams of athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports cannot be considered.
- Athletes who actively support the war cannot compete. Support personnel who actively support the war cannot be entered.
- Athletes who are contracted to Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies cannot compete. Support Personnel who are contracted to Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies cannot be entered.
- Any such Individual Neutral Athlete, like all the other participating athletes, must meet all anti-doping requirements applicable to them and particularly those set out in the anti-doping rules of the IFs.
- The sanctions against those responsible for the war must remain in place.
IOC EB confirmed that these recommendations do not apply to the participation of athletes or support personnel with a Russian or Belarusian passport at the 2024 Paris Games or 2026 Milano Cortina Games. They will “closely monitor the full implementation” of the above recommendations before making any decisions on whether they will be allowed to participate at the upcoming Olympic Games in 2024 and 2026.