Russian and Belarusian athletes officially authorized to participate under neutral banner by the IOC

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), December 1, 2023.

This is undoubtedly the epilogue of a soap opera which began on February 24, 2022 with the attack of Russian forces on Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced, Friday, December 8, in a statement that it authorizes Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate under a neutral banner in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games (JO) – from July 26 to August 11 –, excluding team events and as long as they have not actively supported the Russian invasion.

To date, only eleven “neutral individual athletes” (eight Russians and three Belarusians) qualified for the Olympics, specifies the IOC, against around sixty Ukrainian athletes.

The question is crucial since the fear of seeing a Ukrainian delegation absent or very weakened in Paris has long worried the Olympic body, and would have made the presence of Russian athletes even more politically delicate, even without an anthem or flag.

The position of the Ukrainian government has evolved

After having banned Russians and Belarusians from world sport at the end of February 2022, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the IOC therefore reasoned in two stages to organize their return, explaining on numerous occasions that athletes should not ” pay “ for the actions of their government.

In March 2023, the Olympic organization first recommended that international federations reinstate Russians and Belarusians under neutral banners in their competitions, while rejecting “at an appropriate time” its final decision regarding the Paris Games.

The Olympic body took the time to evaluate the progress of the competitions, judged to be generally satisfactory, and to see the position of the Ukrainian government evolve, which first required its athletes to boycott any event involving Russians before soften its position on July 26 in a new decree.

Furthermore, if the international federations have followed this recommendation in a dispersed manner – athletics, in particular, the queen discipline of the Olympics, still refuses to reinstate the Russians – on the 12e Olympic Summit, organized Tuesday in Lausanne (Lausane), resulted in a clear call from the sporting world to authorize the participation of Russians and Belarusians under neutral status.

Athletes demanded a “quick” decision

Representatives of international federations, the 206 national Olympic committees and athletes then demanded a decision ” fast ” of the IOC. This came three days later.


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The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) had already authorized, on September 29Russian and Belarusian para-athletes to participate, also under a neutral banner, in the Paralympic Games, which will be held in Paris, from August 28 to September 8, 2024.

On November 28, in an interview with World, Matvi Bidny, the new Ukrainian sports minister, however, considered that this neutral status was “irresponsibility”. Mr. Bidny said he expected Moscow to exploit future sporting results from the Paris Olympics. “I guarantee you that if Russian athletes under a neutral banner participate in the Olympic Games, the day after their return to Russia, they will wear “Z” [symbole de ralliement à la guerre] on their shoulders and will be used by this immense propaganda machine. »

Our selection of articles on the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Find all our content on the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games:

  • The question of the presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes

How international tensions could invite themselves into the Olympic Games

Paris 2024: “The IOC faced with centrifugal forces that threaten its survival”

The adoption of an Olympic truce far from being unanimous at the UN

The Olympic Truce, a tradition invented by the International Olympic Committee

Why there are concerns about the transport offer during the Olympics

The surfing event maintained at Teahupoo, with a new project for a judges’ tower

Parc de La Villette, in Paris, is transformed in preparation for the Games

The government steps on the accelerator to close the accessibility gap

Paris 2024 opening ceremony: public authorities are leaning towards around 300,000 spectators with free access

400,000 Olympic tickets put on sale for the end-of-year holidays

The company responsible for the construction sites has drawn on its reserves to finance security measures

The organizer of the Games draws on its reserves to ensure its budget is balanced

What the State and communities finance for the Olympic and Paralympic Games

  • The preparation of French athletes

In Saint-Malo, French athletics mobilizes in the final Olympic straight

The Olympics will mobilize 181,000 jobs, but we still have to fill them

  • Seine-Saint-Denis and the Games

Seine-Saint-Denis, at the heart of the Paralympic marathon and para-cycling

“I feel like I’m going to see a lot of things that I’ve never seen, even from the street”

  • Ongoing legal investigations

Winter Games 2030 and 2034: a Paris 2024 framework targeted by a complaint

One year before the Olympics, the specter of business hovers over Paris 2024

  • The Olympic Torch Relay

Against a backdrop of social tensions, the Parisian route of the torch relay revealed

  • Environmental issues

Olympic flying taxis deemed too noisy and too greedy by the Environmental Authority

The difficult challenge of the “green” Olympic Games

  • The societal issues that the Games highlight

Sport at school: the Ministry of National Education wants “see more clearly” on the implementation of thirty minutes a day

Crédit Mutuel will co-finance sports projects carried out as part of the “great national cause”

School sport is still looking for the right formula

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games accelerate the transformation of North-East Paris

  • The Games are not just Paris and Seine-Saint-Denis

Communities seeking a share of the “Olympics effect” with Games preparation centers

In Espalion, on the occasion of the Olympic Games, “we want to talk about our city, make it known”

“They came to see meumeus, they will have seen athletes”, the Verdun Fair at the time of the Games

Sports Department (with AFP)

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