According to IOC boss Thomas Bach, there is great international support for the re-admission of athletes from Russia and Belarus.

"These considerations are supported - worldwide, by a huge majority," the President of the International Olympic Committee told ZDF on Saturday.

Among other things, Bach referred to the backing of the National Olympic Committees in Africa and Asia.

Most recently, the IOC leadership had triggered a controversy with the announcement that, despite the war in Ukraine, athletes from Russia and Belarus wanted to be given opportunities to participate in international competitions.

This could also open the way to the 2024 Summer Games in Paris for these athletes flying a neutral flag.

Ukraine threatens boycott

Worldwide there is "a commitment to the mission of the Olympic Games to unite, to maintain the last bridge between countries and nations and not to encourage another division," said Bach.

According to the IOC, the condition is that the athletes respect the Olympic Charter and the existing sanctions due to the Ukraine war.

In addition, the anti-doping rules must be observed.

Bach pointed out that two special rapporteurs from the UN Human Rights Council had expressed concerns about the further exclusion of Russians and Belarusians.

"It's about people who, according to these two reporters, enjoy human rights," said the 69-year-old.

An exclusion “because of a passport or place of birth” violates the ban on discrimination.

Sharp criticism of the IOC's initiative came primarily from Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Minister of Sport, Wadym Gutzajt, threatened to boycott the 2024 Olympics if Russians and Belarusians were also allowed to take part.

Bach said: "We want a strong Ukrainian team in Paris and in Milan/Cortina."