Neutral status in the hands of international federations
The International Olympic Committee allowed athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the Paris Olympics in a neutral status. The decision was made on Friday, December 8, by the executive committee of the organization.
The 2024 Games will be open to those athletes who qualified for the competition. At the moment, according to the IOC, there are only 11 of them: 8 Russians and three Belarusians. The organization did not specify the types of sports and surnames. At the same time, it is not entirely clear where such a figure came from. If we count wrestlers, judoists, tennis players and cyclists, then more representatives of the Russian Federation fulfilled the criteria. At the same time, the committee stressed that the composition of the Ukrainian delegation will not differ much from the one that was in Tokyo. 60 athletes have already been admitted.
Naturally, the neutral status implies a large number of restrictions, which the IOC has repeatedly spoken about before. In particular, athletes will be able to compete only in individual competitions. This means that all team disciplines are excluded from the Paris Olympics: basketball, volleyball, handball, water polo, football, rugby, as well as group events in synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics. Couples remain in question. In particular, World Aquatics also includes them in this group.
Then, again, there is the traditional ban on the participation in competitions of athletes and personnel who actively support the NWO or have ties to the military structures of Russia or Belarus. Government officials of both countries will not be able to attend the Olympics either.
At the same time, it seems that no additional verification from the IOC to determine the neutral status is planned. The Committee decided to demonstrate that it trusts the international federations in this matter. At the same time, there is a small caveat in the release: the organization will seek an independent assessment of the eligibility of each athlete proposed to participate in the Games. That is, most likely, we are talking about the very commissions that have already announced the sky-high cost of their services. According to the general director of the ROC Vladimir Sengleev, in gymnastics it is 3 thousand francs (300 thousand rubles).
In addition, Russian athletes allowed to compete in Paris, like everyone else, will be required to sign updated conditions for participation in the tournament, the so-called "peacekeeping mission of the Olympic movement." It is already available for review on the official website of the IOC and, fortunately, does not contain anything directly related to the situation in Ukraine.
The uniforms of neutral athletes for competitions, warm-ups or medal ceremonies must be completely white or plain and without any application, be it logos or advertising. Only the IOC emblem or the abbreviation AIN can be used on equipment. As for the anthem, the committee will later decide which melody will replace it.
At the same time, the release notes that the decision to admit Russian and Belarusian athletes was influenced by the declarations of the leaders of the G120 in New Delhi and the Non-Aligned Movement, which includes <> UN member states.
Separately, the committee noted the concerns of two special rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council, who demanded that the IOC ensure "non-discrimination against any athlete on the basis of his nationality."
The IOC also drew attention to the fact that at the summit in December, representatives of WADA and ITA assured members of the organization: doping control in Russia continues. According to their data, more than 2023,10 samples were collected from domestic athletes in 500, both those admitted to international tournaments and those performing only within the country. More than 400 tests were taken out of competition. At the same time, blood and urine samples are examined in laboratories outside the Russian Federation.
"An Ambivalent Attitude"
In Russia, the IOC's decision was treated with restraint. After all, the situation for domestic athletes has not changed globally. In only a few sports, they perform without serious restrictions, and in many of them, qualification competitions have already been completed, and the committee does not plan to hold additional ones. This, first of all, drew attention to the head of the FTR Shamil Tarpischev.
"They allowed it, good, of course, but too late. In many sports, qualifying tournaments have already passed, and many will not have time to qualify for the Olympics. In addition, international federations will decide [the issue of participation], and it is unclear in what form all this will take place. In our country, the decision of the International Tennis Federation can be expected until the last moment, before the French Open. According to the rating, all our tennis players pass, but now there is no point in guessing how it will be," TASS quotes Tarpischev as saying.
In fencing, in particular, the leaders are still not allowed to participate in international competitions. And the head coach of the Russian national artistic gymnastics team Valentina Rodionenko doubts that her pupils will go on such conditions.
"All patriots understand this. They weed out our strongest athletes, deprive us of the flag and the anthem. We need to stop adapting and being on our knees. Let the IOC itself think how to admit us in normal quality," RIA Novosti quoted Rodionenko as saying.
Olympic champion Svetlana Zhurova was also skeptical about the IOC's statement and linked the committee's decision with the nomination of Russian President Vladimir Putin for a new term.
"I have an ambivalent attitude to this decision of the IOC. If it had been done in March, everyone would have been calm. But, as they say, accidents are not accidental. As soon as Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich announced his intentions to run for the next term, this wonderful statement immediately appeared.
I suspect that this is a kind of warning to those athletes who want to re-create Putin's team and support him in the elections, which will immediately be tied to their approval of the special military operation. In the end, this will not allow them to participate in the Olympics in any status," Zhurova told RT.
State Duma deputy Dmitry Svishchev, in turn, said that the IOC could not make another decision, since the committee had no legal grounds for this.
"Competent officials have painted themselves into a corner with their own decisions. They didn't know how to get out of this situation with their faces held high. Let me put it this way: the IOC itself has created difficulties and is now trying to solve them. This is an intermediate solution that suits us intermediately," Svishchev told RT.
At the same time, according to the expert, there should be no restrictions on the admission of athletes. In this way, discrimination against them continues.
"According to the IOC, the guys should not support the special military operation, they should not be involved in Dynamo or CSKA. If athletes from these societies should not participate in individual competitions, then this measure should be symmetrical for other countries as well. And for some reason, all this still needs to be proven," the RT interlocutor added.
At the same time, five-time world champion Dmitry Sautin reacted positively to the IOC's decision.
"I myself only recently learned about this news and I am just shocked. I believe that the guys are satisfied and will prepare for the upcoming selection for the Olympics in February. The Lord heard us and our team! I think that the ROC will try to come to an agreement with the IOC in order to increase the number of our representatives. The expansion will be for sure: the current number is just a drop in the ocean," Sautin said in an interview with RT.
Former track and field athlete and commentator Yolanda Chen also called the IOC's decision a good signal. In her opinion, the rest is up to the Russian Olympic Committee.
"For me personally, this news is a plus, but now the ROC must discuss with the IOC all the possible nuances of this decision. What criteria will be used to admit our athletes and what to do with those who did not have time to qualify for the Olympics," Chen told RT.
In any case, as Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted, it is up to the athletes themselves to decide whether to go to the Olympics or not.
"Late publication of criteria? Nothing has surprised me for a long time, because I know the goal of those who do this is to inflict as much damage on us as possible in everything," Zakharova told Sport-Express.