In the midst of persistent doubt around Russian athletes’ ability to compete ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, Olympic sports bodies gathered on Wednesday to discuss the same.
Almost two months after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) provided specific guidelines on how athletes from Belarus, a military ally of Russia, could be reintegrated as neutral athletes, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) held its annual conference today.
The Guidelines Set by The International Olympic Committee
In March, the International Olympic Committee said that some Russians and Belarusians might compete in individual competitions but not in team sports provided they weren’t actively involved in the war in Ukraine and were not employed by “military or national security agencies.” According to the IOC and ASOIF, the winter sports umbrella organisation AIOWF might be in charge of “establishing a single impartial panel” to manage and “harmonise” the neutral status evaluations of numerous athletes, coaches, and support personnel.
On the 32-sport Paris program, IOC President Thomas Bach will address the heads of the governing bodies, who have final authority over their respective events and who compete in them. Following the invasion of Ukraine in February of last year, Bach and the IOC have called for Russia to be banned from international sports, among other things, to ensure the safety of athletes.
Later, the IOC and Bach began to claim that excluding all Russians and Belarusians from the 2024 Games was discriminatory as the war raged on and the Olympics drew near. The IOC stated that Russian and Belarusians would not be permitted to use their flag, anthem, or national colors if they were granted permission to compete.
ASOIF executives have already warned that “each sport has different realities,” such as the locations of Olympic qualification competitions and the impact of Ukraine’s allies on governments and sports, particularly in Europe.
The Differing Opinions of Various Sport Committees
In gymnastics, a decision to reintegrate Russians was postponed until at least July, as it happens to be an Olympic sport where Russians dominate. The World Championships for gymnastics start on September 30 in Antwerp, Belgium, which is crucial to qualifying for Paris.
The heaviest action against Russia came from the sport of track and field, with World Athletics President Sebastian Coe highlighting the deaths of hundreds of athletes in Ukraine. The International Judo Federation held its World Championships in Qatar this month, in which some Russian participants were present while Ukraine boycotted the competition.
Olympic sports administrators from various countries are considering their options. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine and Olympic medal winners from previous and current games urge that Russia should not be admitted to Paris.
The Decision Taken by The Badminton World Federation
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) plans to establish a regulative and practical structure allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete. At its next meeting in August, the BWF Council is scheduled to discuss a potential timetable for removing the suspension of Russians and Belarusians.
The International Federation reaffirmed its vehement rejection of the conflict in Ukraine and pledged to keep providing “unwavering assistance” to both the badminton fraternity and the citizens of Ukraine. However, the Committee believes that athletes should be permitted to compete in sports without regard to their nationality. Sports must become a medium to build solidarity without allowing any geo-political event to affect the participation of athletes.