On March 28, an event of crucial importance for Russian sports was to take place in Lausanne. As reported in the media, at the meeting of the IOC Executive Committee it was planned to discuss the possible participation of domestic athletes in the Summer Olympics in Paris and the Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo. And although it was initially expected that the final verdict would be made at the end of the event, this did not happen. The head of the committee, Thomas Bach, said that the decision would be made "in due time", but at the same time outlined the criteria under which the Russians can hope to get to the competition.
The prerequisites for the admission of Russians to the Olympics in Paris arose shortly before the start of the meeting, when Bach's statements appeared in the media. During the opening speech at the meeting of the Executive Committee, he expressed the opinion that the performance of domestic athletes at international competitions does not create serious problems and is actively practiced in a number of sports.
"We see this almost every day in various sports, primarily in tennis, cycling, as well as in some table tennis competitions. We see it in hockey, handball, soccer and other leagues — not just in the U.S., but in Europe and other continents. At none of these tournaments there was not a single incident related to security, "Reuters quoted Bach as saying.
The head of the IOC also stressed that in the current realities it is impossible to make a decision that suits all parties, so it is necessary to seek consensus.
"The authorities of the countries on the territory of which the competitions are held, with very rare exceptions, issue visas to Russian and Belarusian athletes and players, and in other countries they are even issued work permits. We will not be able to find a solution that would suit everyone. With this, perhaps, we will have to put up with, "concluded Bach.
True, some were quick to disagree with the position of the functionary. For example, the famous former hockey player Dominik Hasek insultingly criticized Bach and called him "either abnormal or corrupt." Fencers went even further: 318 representatives of this sport wrote a collective letter to the IOC and the International Fencing Federation (FIE) demanding not to allow Russians and Belarusians to perform at the championships.
As a result, the point was never made. During the press conference, Bach said that the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Games in Paris, as well as Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, was not discussed, and reserved the right for the IOC to make a final verdict at the "proper moment" - even if by that time they have already successfully qualified and qualified for the championship.
"Throughout the period of application of the above-mentioned exemptions by international sports federations, the IOC will closely monitor the full implementation of these recommendations by all stakeholders. The results of this monitoring procedure will be an important factor in the IOC's decision regarding the participation of athletes with Russian or Belarusian citizenship in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris and the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan," Bach said.
We are talking about the recommendations that were asked to be designated by international federations in case of possible admission to tournaments of athletes from Russia and Belarus. And although Bach stressed that the final decision will be made by specific organizations, and urged to be based on sports principles, he reported on the formation of a list of items, the implementation of which he considers necessary.
According to the list, it is recommended not to allow Russians and Belarusians who support the SVO in Ukraine, as well as those associated with the armed forces and national security bodies, to international starts. And in the first paragraph we are talking about public statements, demonstration of symbols and participation in various kinds of events, one way or another related to the special operation. According to the IOC, special commissions should be created to monitor compliance with this rule.
At the same time, even if these requirements are met, Russians and Belarusians will be able to perform at tournaments only as neutral athletes and purely in individual disciplines. The IOC recommends not to allow Russians to participate in international competitions in team sports.
The IOC also said that sanctions against governments remain in force, as a result of which officials and statesmen of both countries cannot be invited or accredited to competitions, and it is forbidden to hold championships on the territory of these countries. The committee also appealed to the organizers, reminding them of the ban on the demonstration of the flags of Russia and Belarus, as well as the performance of their anthems.
Thus, the position of the IOC, voiced in January 2023, was confirmed. Then it was already said about the intention to partially lift the ban on Russians and Belarusians to participate in tournaments, but only if a number of requirements are met. At that time, a ban on admission for persons supporting the SVO was also named among them.