The International Olympic Committee has recommended that all Russians and Belarusian athletes should be blocked from competing for their countries, following the invasion of Ukraine.
It puts pressure on the International Paralympic Committee ahead of the start of the Beijing Winter Games on Friday, though the IOC has noted in its statement that it might be too short notice to do anything about it - advising it to “find its own way to effectively address the dilemma.”
The move means that FIFA, which works alongside the IOC, will be encouraged to kick Russia out of World Cup qualifying, with opponents Poland already refusing to play the fixture, and for UEFA to remove Russia from Women’s Euro 2022 in England.
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The IOC says if athletes cannot be blocked from competition, Russia and Belarus should not compete under their flag - as is already the case with Russia because of its recent doping scandals.
The Olympic Order, which recognises contributions to the movement, has also been removed from “all persons who currently have an important function in the government of the Russian Federation or other government-related high-ranking position” - including Vladimir Putin.
In a statement, the IOC says it has had to go against its own ethics by banning Russia and Ukraine, given the movement is usually “united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government” but says the war in Ukraine has put it in a “dilemma”.
“While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country,” said a statement.
“This is a dilemma which cannot be solved,” it concluded, before announcing its sanctions.
As the closest the world has to a global sporting governing body, the stance of the IOC - often seen for making cautious decisions - is likely to send shockwaves through sport.
The most pressing issue will be the Winter Paralympics, with athletes having already arrived in the Beijing “closed loop”. The IPC is due to hold its own board meeting on Wednesday, but as the IOC has mentioned, Russians and Belarusians competing alongside Ukrainians and international athletes who are condemning the war is something it wants to avoid.
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