Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), claims that the organsation is considering allowing Russians who do not support their country’s invasion of Ukraine to compete.
In February, the IOC issued guidance to sports governing bodies to remove Russian and Belarusian athletes from the competition. Belarus has supported Russia in its war on Ukraine, allowing Russia to stage part of the invasion from its territory and offering Russia the shortest feasible land route to Kyiv.
“It is not about necessarily having Russia back. It's about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition," Bach said to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
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"Here comes our dilemma – this war has not been started by the Russian athletes. But we saw that some governments did not want to respect anymore the autonomy of international sports…
"This is why we've had to take these protective measures to be at least still a little bit in the driving seat and not lose all autonomy. And this is why, on the other hand, we also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever."
Bach highlighted that nothing has changed as of yet, with the current ban on Russian athletes still in place. He stated, however, that the IOC needed to make decisions quickly, with qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Olympics already starting to take place.
"There is no change in the recommendations... We are very grateful to the International Federations that they are following them.
"The Olympic Movement has as a mission to contribute to peace, so we have to see how we can contribute to peace.
"I think our major contribution is to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity."
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