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The International Olympic Committee wants to “explore means” to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes, excluded from international competitions since the end of February due to the invasion of Ukraine, its president Thomas Bach announced Wednesday.

“Us we must explore means of overcoming this dilemma around the participation of athletes, to return to sporting merits and not to political interference“, declared the IOC leader before the press.

This IOC proposal is not new but Thomas Bach He did not outline clues or deadlines: “That requires other consultations and they are ongoing, so no date set“, he evaded.

Since the invasion of Ukraine in the middle of the Olympic truce, within the framework of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, the IOC differentiates between the “sanctions” inflicted on the Russian and Belarusian states from the “protection measures” on athletes, which they are in no way held responsible for the acts of their rulers.

“There is no change in our position. The sanctions must continue in force”, whether it is the prohibition of the flags of the two countries and of the competitions on their soil due to the “violation of the Olympic charter”, recalled the leader of the Olympic movement.

But the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes, “recommended” by the IOC to international federations at the end of February, was always presented by the Olympic body as a measure aimed at protecting the integrity of the competitions and the safety of athletes. and capable of being reassessed regularly.

We have had to act against our own values“, doing” what we had never done and what we never wanted to donamely, prevent athletes from participating in competitions solely because of their passportsBach acknowledged.

After a debate within the IOC Executive Board that lasted “four hours” on Wednesday morning, the issue will also be on the menu of the eleventh Olympic Summit on Friday in Lausanne, behind closed doors, with representatives international federations and three national Olympic committees: those of China, the United States and Russia.

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