February 26. 2024. 5:39

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Czechia disagrees with IOC recommendation for Russian athletes’ return

Czechia disagrees with the International Olympic Committee recommending on Thursday that Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete in international competitions as neutral competitors.

The recommendation published Tuesday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommends that athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports must compete as Individual Neutral Athletes while suggesting that team sports should be banned for both countries.

“I am disappointed with the IOC recommendation. We must not close our eyes to reality. Russian sport is centrally controlled from the Kremlin,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said.

The IOC has not yet decided whether it will allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. However, Lipavský is convinced they should be banned from all international sports events, including the Olympics.

Meanwhile, the Czech Olympic Committee launched an expert group that must look into legal arguments to ensure Russian and Belarusian athletes do not participate in the upcoming Olympics.

But political matters should not interfere with sports, said IOC President Thomas Bach.

“If governments took over the decision of which athletes can participate in which competitions, it would be the end of world sport as we know it today,” he said.

Whether Belarussian and Russian athletes are to participate is still to be decided, though Bach failed to mention a specific date for this decision.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)