Head of the IOC Thomas Bach at a press conference in Lausanne, he explained why the organization decided to recommend the return of athletes from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus to big-time sports:
“Firstly, we do not recommend participation, but put forward very strict conditions for international federations who may want to allow athletes with russian and russian passports to compete in their tournaments, which are under their responsibility.
Secondly, the recommendations of February 28, 2022 were not a suspension, they were not sanctions, they were a preventive measure. We introduced it for two main reasons. There have been a number of countries that have decided which athletes can participate in certain competitions, refusing to issue visas to Russians and Belarusians, threatening their athletes with withdrawal from international federations, even from NOCs, taking away their funding if they compete with Russians and Belarusians.
The second reason was that we could not guarantee that the hosts of the competitions would be able to provide security for the Russians and Belarusians due to the very tense atmosphere in a number of countries. This compromised the integrity of international sports. And that would be against our mission, because we have a dilemma. And contrary to our mission, we had to issue this recommendation not to invite Russians and Belarusians to international competitions in order to protect the integrity of international sport.
What has changed since then? I can name several factors, but let’s outline only two. First, we see that in a number of sports – tennis, cycling, handball, football, hockey – this is already working. You see Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in some of these sports. They even compete against the Ukrainians there. And we see it almost every day in women’s and men’s tennis. Recently, even a Ukrainian won a Belarusian in the final (in fact, Marta Kostyuk beat a Russian – approx.) in Austin at the WTA tournament. And we have many other examples.
We see that these athletes receive visas to these countries, in this case the United States, but there are many other examples in international sports. And in some countries where there is such a need, these athletes even receive a work permit from the state. And there are no serious security problems in these cases.
The reasons for these measures have changed a lot. This has been discussed in many consultations, why this is possible in these sports, why it cannot be possible in swimming, table tennis, wrestling or other sports. What is the difference?
Secondly, there is a clear statement from two independent UN special rapporteurs on human rights. I will quote some of these remarks: “We agree that this war is illegal. The specific obligations of states continue to exist, and the prohibition of direct discrimination is one of the core values of the human rights system. We need to make sure we focus on countries. I think it’s absolutely perfect that the IOC and others have excluded rf and rb. We must begin by agreeing that these states will be excluded.
The question is what will happen to people? This is not a gray area of international law. It is something that binds all countries and all people. It is very important that we call this a peremptory norm of international law. For this reason, a general ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes cannot continue. This is a gross violation of human rights. The idea is not that we are going to recognize human rights for individuals like us, and with whom we coordinate their actions and behavior. The idea is that everyone has the right not to be discriminated against because of a passport.
IOC along with the Olympic Charter. We are connected with it not only by our mission, but also by the rules of the non-discrimination charter. The Olympic Movement recognizes the basic principles of the United Nations on human rights standards. This is a very clear statement by independent UN rapporteurs appointed by the UN to give such advice, to warn everyone involved in human rights violations, to show remedies for them.
These clear statements cannot be dismissed by the Olympic Movement. And there are two main reasons that have changed from February 28, 2022 to today.”
Leave a Reply