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IOC rules on participation 'unacceptable', says Russian Olympic head

He opposes any notion of Russian and Belarusian athletes competing as neutrals with no use of flags or anthems allowed.

Reuters
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Ukrainian refugees protest against any participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in Essen, Germany, March 22. Photo: Reuters
Ukrainian refugees protest against any participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in Essen, Germany, March 22. Photo: Reuters

The head of Russia's Olympic Committee denounced as unacceptable on Tuesday criteria announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) intended to enable Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in international competitions.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus, Moscow's ally, were banned from competition following the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine last year, but the rules announced at the IOC's Lausanne headquarters seek to allow a gradual return to world sport.

Stanislav Pozdnyakov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, told a news conference that he opposed any notion of Russian and Belarusian athletes competing as neutrals with no use of flags or anthems allowed.

He also denounced the imposition of additional anti-doping procedures for Russian competitors – a measure linked to previous doping scandals.

"The parameters as announced are absolutely unacceptable. This is discrimination on the basis of nationality, as repeatedly noted by international human rights specialists," Pozdnyakov told a news conference, a video clip of which was posted on his Telegram account.

"Neutral status is a violation of human rights... We believe the proposed conditions to be groundless, void of legal basis and excessive.

"We categorically disagree with conducting additional anti-doping procedures as regards Russian athletes."

The IOC decision, he said, amounted to "an acknowledgment of their error" when the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes was introduced days after Russian troops moved into Ukraine.

The IOC, now keen to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes come back across all sports, has set out a pathway for these competitors to earn Olympic slots through Asian qualifying.

Ukraine has spearheaded a campaign to boycott the Paris Olympic Games should they compete, even as neutrals.

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