The International Olympic Committee's executive board has recommended that international sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from competing in events, the IOC said on Monday, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The IOC said the executive board made the decision “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants”.
It added that wherever it was not possible to bar athletes for organisational or legal reasons, such athletes should not compete under the name Russia or Belarus and should be classed as neutrals.
The Russian Olympic Committee categorically disagreed with the IOC, saying the decision “contradicts both the regulatory documents of the IOC and the (Olympic) Charter”.
“As a first step, we consider it necessary to send requests to international federations for an official response on the status of Russian athletes and their rights to participate in international competitions due to the fact that it is the . . . federations that have the authority to admit athletes to international competitions in the respective sport,” the ROC said in a statement.
“For its part, the Russian Olympic Committee intends to consistently uphold the rights and interests of Russian athletes and provide all necessary assistance to our national federations to challenge discriminatory decisions of the relevant international federations.”
The statement from IOC comes shortly before the Winter Paralympics, which starts in Beijing on Friday. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will meet on Wednesday to discuss Russia ahead of the Games. Some 650 athletes from 49 national Paralympic committees, including the Russian, will take part.
Athletes from Ukraine and other nations have urged the IOC and IPC to suspend Russia and Belarus ban their athletes from events immediately.
The Global Athlete movement, which aims to empower athletes, said IOC’s statement “falls short”.
“The #IOC refuses to fully suspend the Russian & Belarus NOC,” it said on Twitter. “The #IPC needs to immediately suspend the Russian and Belarus Paralympic Committees @Olympics @Paralympics athletes have seen these PR stints in the past.”
The IOC also strongly urged federations to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus would be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus.
“Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams. No national symbols, colours, flags or anthems should be displayed,” the statement added.
However, the board said that in very extreme circumstances, the board would leave it to the relevant organisations to effectively address the dilemma.
“In this context, the IOC EB considered in particular the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and reiterated its full support for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the Games,” the statement added.
The IOC reiterated its recommendation not to organise any sports event in Russia or Belarus.
The IOC also said it had taken the ad hoc decision to withdraw the Olympic Order, the highest honour granted by the IOC, from all persons who currently have an important function in the government of the Russian Federation, including Russian president Vladimir Putin.
It said it made the decision based on “the exceptional circumstances of the situation and considering the extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce and other violations of the Olympic Charter by the Russian government in the past”.