Olympics: Keep Russian, Belarusian athletes banned, says German committee

The Olympic rings are seen in front of Paris' City Hall, in preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games. PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN – Germany’s Olympic committee (DOSB) said on Friday that it was in favour of maintaining a ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

But it opposed any plans to boycott the Paris 2024 Olympics over their participation.

Ukraine has spearheaded a call to ban athletes from Russia and its close ally Belarus from the Paris Games.

This follows the International Olympic Committee (IOC) saying in January that it was open to including them in the global sporting showpiece as neutrals.

The war-torn country has also threatened a boycott should they be allowed to compete there, but no final decision has been taken yet.

“We remain in favour of a ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes and sports administrators from international competitions,” the DOSB said in a statement.

“Russia and Belarus must not get the chance to misuse the participation and successes of their athletes at international competitions for war propaganda purposes.”

Athletes from Russia and its neighbour Belarus, which aided Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, have been banned from many international competitions since then.

The IOC confirmed sanctions against Russia and Belarus in December.

But the IOC is now reluctant to exclude their athletes from the Olympics entirely for fear of a return to the boycotts of the Cold War era.

They set out a pathway in January for competitors from the two nations to earn Olympic slots through Asian qualifying and to compete as neutral athletes in the Paris Games.

Neutral athletes are not considered to be representing their nations and their successes are not accompanied by the flying of flags or playing of national anthems.

Some federations have since readmitted Russians and Belarusians in competitions but there is considerable opposition to the IOC’s plans.

On Thursday, Germany’s fencing federation cancelled a women’s foil World Cup event after the global governing body (FIE) reversed a ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus.

Some 11 nations also boycotted the women’s boxing championships in New Delhi last week, in protest at the presence of Russian and Belarusian boxers among the 300-odd participants from 65 countries.

The DOSB, however, insisted that the Germans will not be boycotting any event.

“Independent of the decision of the IOC and the international sports federations with regard to the re-admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes and sports administrators, we reject any boycott of international competitions, especially the Olympic and Paralympic Games of Paris 2024 on principle,” it said.


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