IOC

IOC looks for ways Russian athletes ‘who do not support war’ could compete as neutrals

Thomas Bach
Getty
0 Comments

GENEVA — Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.

“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”

Most sports followed IOC advice in February and banned Russian teams and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.

In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.

“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”

Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.

Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Yevgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.

Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.

Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”

“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested. “We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

India faces final warning from IOC before possible ban of country name, flag

India Flag
Getty
0 Comments

Athletes from India will not be allowed to compete under the country’s name and flag at the Olympics and other international sports events unless the nation’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) resolves governance issues in the next three months.

The International Olympic Committee Executive Board announced Thursday a final warning for India’s NOC, noting “ongoing internal disputes, governance shortcomings and continuing court cases.”

The board will consider an immediate suspension of the NOC at its next meeting in December if the NOC does not “address and resolve its governance issues to the IOC’s satisfaction” and hold “its quadrennial elections in accordance with the Olympic Charter.”

The IOC board said India’s quadrennial elections scheduled for December 2021 have not been held.

If suspended, India’s athletes “would no longer be able to represent the country and compete under the country’s flag/name at the Olympic Games and other international sports events,” according to the IOC board. In the past, athletes from suspended NOCs have competed independently or as neutral athletes.

India, the world’s second-most-populous nation, earned seven medals at the Tokyo Games, its most ever, including its first track and field gold medal from Neeraj Chopra in the men’s javelin.

India’s NOC was previously banned in 2012 (after the London Olympics) over governance issues and violating the Olympic Charter and reinstated in 2014.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Allyson Felix joins IOC athletes’ commission

Allyson Felix
Getty
0 Comments

Allyson Felix and a refugee cyclist originally from Afghanistan joined the International Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission on Thursday.

Felix is the most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history with 11 medals, including seven golds, and joins the commission after winning her record-extending 14th career world championship title in her farewell meet.

Also appointed was cyclist Masomah Ali Zada, who was born in Afghanistan and competed in the women’s cycling time trial on the IOC’s refugee Olympic team last year in Tokyo. Ali Zada is now studying in France and will be the first refugee athlete on the commission.

The other two new members are two-time Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain and Canadian athlete Oluseyi Smith, who competed in the Summer Olympics in track and the Winter Olympics in bobsled.

The new members were all appointed to the IOC athletes’ commission, which has a mix of members elected by other athletes and those appointed directly by IOC President Thomas Bach. Only the elected members typically also serve on the full IOC, which decides Olympic host cities and will elect a new president to replace Bach in 2025.

“Athletes are at the very heart of the Olympic Movement, and it is therefore essential that their voices are heard within the IOC,” Bach said in a statement. “Those voices must be as diverse as possible. The appointment of these four new members of the athletes’ commission complements the outstanding skills and experience of the commission and ensures we have great representation across different sports and regions of the world.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!