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IOC says Russia, Belarus athletes may face Paris 2024 ban

The Olympic rings are pictured in front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/

Athletes from Russia and Belarus may not be allowed to compete at the Paris 2024 Games over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Craig Reedie said.

In the early part of this year, Belarus has been used as a staging ground for Russia's invasion, which Moscow calls a "special military operation" – sparking sporting organisations and events around the world to ban athletes from the two countries.

While the IOC issued guidance to sports governing bodies in February to remove the two countries' athletes from competition, which is now likely to be extended to the Paris 2024 Olympics as well.

This is according to former IOC vice-president and current committee member Craig Reedie through reports by British Media.

"A decision is going to have to be taken on what happens to each of these two countries, and my guess is that the general feeling would be that they should not qualify," former IOC vice-president Reedie told British media.

"Most people are struggling with how we could achieve some degree of representation, but at the moment, there is no clear way to do it. Therefore, you maintain the status quo."

Athletes will miss qualification 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 who sit on the IOC from participating in Olympic meetings and has also not sanctioned the Russian Olympic Committee.

Of the sports on the Olympic programme, only cycling, tennis, and judo have allowed Russians and Belarusians to continue to compete, but Reedie said he doubted even athletes from those sports would be permitted to participate in qualifying events.

Reedie, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said it would be unrealistic to allow athletes to enter qualifying competitions once they have begun.

"It's quite difficult halfway through to say, 'All of you who have now qualified, we've changed the rules'," Reedie said.

"So there's a real issue for the federations, who have a clear instruction which they've agreed to that they won't invite Russians and Belarusians to take part in events.

"On the face of it, it's unlikely that anybody would qualify other than those three sports which don't do it that way. And will they be able to qualify (from those three sports)? I'm not sure."

A Russian doping scandal involving revelations of a state-backed system across many sports following the Sochi 2014 Olympics led to Russian athletes competing as neutrals at the Games as part of IOC sanctions.



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