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May 19, 2022
IOC: Russian And Belarusian Athletes Should Be Banned From All International Sports After Ukraine Invasion

IOC: Russian And Belarusian Athletes Should Be Banned From All International Sports After Ukraine Invasion

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged sports bodies to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international competitions following the invasion of Ukraine, the organization announced Monday, amid increasing numbers of national teams and associations refusing to host events in or play matches against either country. 

The Russian flag during the men’s preliminary round ice hockey match during the Pyeongchang 2018 … [+] Winter Olympic Games .

AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

The IOC said the move would “protect the integrity of global sports competitions” and the safety of all participants.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is supported by Belarus, has created an unsolvable “dilemma” for the Olympic movement, the IOC said, which aims to foster peace through sport and treat athletes fairly and independently from the actions of their government.

However, the invasion threatens this principle of fairness, the IOC said, because though athletes from Russia and Belarus can continue to compete internationally unless restrictions are imposed upon them, many Ukrainian athletes “are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.” 

In events where Russian or Belarusian participation cannot be avoided—for example due to legal or organizational reasons—athletes and officials should only take part as neutral competitors with no symbols, colors, flags or anthems, the IOC said.  

The IOC also said Russian president Vladimir Putin had been stripped of his Olympic Order award, along with deputy prime minister Dmitry Chernyshenko and deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak, for the “extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce.”  

What To Watch For
Paralympics. The International Paralympic Committee is set to meet Wednesday to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ assistance. The Beijing Winter Games are set to start on Friday. 

Key Background
The IOC previously denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic games as a violation of the Olympic Truce. The Truce, which all 193 UN member states, Russia included, agreed to uphold, calls for the “​​cessation of hostilities” during the Games and for a short period after they conclude. It dates back to the very beginning of the Olympics movement and serves to “promote peace” and ensure athletes’ safe passage to the Games, though it is non-binding and there are no formal consequences for breaking it. The IOC is the latest in a multitude of sporting figures to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. Teams and organizations have distanced themselves from Russian sponsors, national teams have refused to play against Russian competitors and organizations like UEFA and Formula 1 have decided against hosting events in Russia. FIFA, the world’s governing body for soccer, is reportedly set to suspend Russia on Monday. The organizing body faced backlash for deciding the national squad must compete upcoming games in neutral territory, threatening to derail the upcoming World Cup as other national teams including England, Poland and Sweden refused to play Russia. 

Further Reading
FIFA Takes Stand Against Russia: Here’s How The Sports World Has Reacted To The Ukraine Invasion (Forbes)

With Ukraine Under Attack, The Sports World Cuts Ties With Russian Sponsors (Forbes)

IOC ‘Strongly Condemns’ Russia For Violating ‘Olympic Truce’ By Invading Ukraine (Forbes)

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