Paris 2024: IOC member says athletes from Russia and Belarus may face ban

Athletes from Russia and Belarus may not be allowed to compete in the Paris Games because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, said Craig Reedie, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC issued guidance in February for sports federations to remove athletes from both countries from the competition. Belarus was used as a base for the Russian invasion, which Moscow describes as a “military special operation.”

“A decision has to be made about what happens to each of these two countries and I suspect the general feeling will be that they should not qualify,” former IOC Vice-President Reedie told British media.

“Most people struggle with how we might achieve some level of representation, but right now there is no clear way to do that. So keep the status quo.”

Athletes will miss qualifying events for Paris as a result of the measures, and IOC President Thomas Bach said in May that Russia’s participation was unclear.

However, it has not sanctioned or banned Russian members sitting on the IOC from attending Olympic sessions, nor has it sanctioned the Russian Olympic Committee.

Of the sports in the Olympic program, only cycling, tennis and judo have allowed Russians and Belarusians to continue competing, but Reedie said he doubts even athletes from those sports would be allowed to compete in qualifying events.

Reedie, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said it was unrealistic to allow athletes to compete in qualifying competitions once they had started.

“It’s quite difficult to say, ‘Everybody who’s qualified now, we’ve changed the rules,'” Reedie said.

“So there is a real problem for the federations who have a clear instruction that they have agreed that they will not invite Russians and Belarusians to attend events.

“On the face of it, it’s unlikely anyone would qualify other than the three sports that don’t. And will they be able to qualify (from those three sports)? I’m not sure.”

A Russian doping scandal involving revelations of a state-sponsored system in many sports following the Sochi 2014 Olympics resulted in Russian athletes attending the Games as neutrals under IOC sanctions.

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Peter Rutherford)