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PACE calls for a total ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes taking part in the Paris Olympics and Paralympics

Linda Hofstad HELLELAND (Norway, EPP/CD)
©Council of Europe

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its constituent sports bodies to maintain the position expressed in 2022, and to prohibit the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games – and all other major sporting events – “as long as Russia’s war of aggression continues”.

The IOC is currently considering the possibility of allowing athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport to compete in Paris as “neutral athletes” and is expected to reach a decision soon.

Adopting a resolution based on a report by Linda Hofstad Helleland (Norway, EPP/CD), the Assembly said any participation in the current context was “unthinkable, would certainly be used as a tool of propaganda, and would de facto prevent other athletes – not least Ukrainian ones – from participating”.

The IOC’s effort to establish a set of criteria allowing these athletes to take part as neutral, individual competitors “cannot provide the necessary guarantees, and will not constitute a response worthy of the values of human dignity and peace enshrined in the Olympic Charter”, the parliamentarians said.

The arguments for permitting their participation on the grounds of neutrality, the independence of sport and non-discrimination “do not carry sufficient weight faced with the imperative of condemning and repudiating the atrocities being committed, and of demonstrating the international community’s complete and unwavering support for Ukraine as the onslaught continues”, the Assembly said.

The parliamentarians pointed out that Russian and Belarusian elite athletes received state salaries and were often part of military sports teams. “It seems impossible that they could demonstrate their neutrality and distance from these regimes, let alone make any declaration against the war,” they added. Those doing so “would be putting themselves in a dangerous situation”.