Track and Field Keeps Ban on Russia and Belarus, Adding to Debate on Olympics
World Athletics, the international governing body for athletics, on Thursday voted to continue the ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in the events.
The move by one of the most influential international sports federations in the Olympic movement is the latest sign that efforts to exclude Russia and Belarus from next summer’s 2024 Olympics in Paris have not abated, despite the hopes of the leaders of the International Olympic Committee. that it is possible. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said earlier this year that he hoped that there might be a way for Belarusian and Russian athletes to compete in the Paris Olympics so as not to punish them for their political misdeeds. books of their leaders. .
world athletics and many other sports federations introduced the ban shortly after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago, using Belarus as a springboard.
“The death and devastation we have witnessed in Ukraine over the past year, including the deaths of approximately 185 athletes, further strengthens my resolve on this issue,” said Sebastian Coe, Union president. World Athletics Union, said in a statement on Thursday.
Mr Coe, a former Olympic athlete from the UK, said: “The integrity of our major international competitions has been significantly compromised by the actions of the governments of Russia and Belarus, through causing disruptions. hardship for Ukrainian athletes and the destruction of Ukraine’s sports systems.” . “Russian and Belarusian athletes, many of whom have military ties, should not be the beneficiaries of these actions.”
Spokesperson of the IOC declined to comment. The IOC is expected to address the issue after next week’s executive board meeting.
The World Athletics Federation has agreed to form a working group to discuss the conditions under which Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as individuals. For example, in professional tennis, players from Russia and Belarus are largely allowed to compete individually, but their countries cannot participate in international competitions, such as the Davis Cup or Billie Jean Cup, and athletes cannot be identified in their country by flag or nationality.
Stanislav Pozdnyakov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, has said that athletes from Russia and Belarus should be allowed to compete without restrictions. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine personally lobbied the IOC banned Russians and Belarusians from participating, saying that allowing athletes to compete under a neutral flag would not be enough punishment for their country.
The question now is whether there will be any spillovers from the decision by the World Athletics Federation and a similar decision by the International Ice Hockey Federation on Wednesdays, to other sports and organizations.
In February, with the vast majority of European governments seemingly opposed to allowing athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete in Paris next year, the IOC sought to get those athletes to start the process. qualified for the Summer Olympics. During that time, the Olympic Council of Asia began to consider allowing Russia and Belarus to compete at the Asian Games, the continental championship scheduled to take place later this year in Hangzhou, China. Country.
It is unclear whether that organization, which includes the national Olympic committees in Asia, is subject to the world athletics ban. In addition, if athletes from Russia and Belarus compete at the Asian Games while the ban is in place, it is unclear whether World Athletics, which organizes athletics competition at the Games, will accept their results or not.
Immediately, the Lawn Tennis Association, the UK tennis watchdog, and the All England Club, which owns and organizes Wimbledon, will appear in the next few weeks to announce that they will allow players from Russia and Belarus competed this year after banning them. from all leagues in England last year.