Participation of Russian athletes in the Paris Olympic Games:
Will the International Olympic Committee disgrace itself?
This Wednesday, the IOC Executive Board is discussing the possible return of Russian athletes to international competitions, including the Paris Olympics in 2024. The Committee recommended their exclusion just a year ago, after the invasion of Ukraine.
Such a step backwards would be unjustifiable, as long as the Russian troops have not themselves stepped back, respecting Ukraine's internationally recognised borders.
Such a step backwards would be morally unacceptable, at a time when Russia has escalated its crimes in recent months by regularly bombing Ukrainian civilians.
Such a step backwards would also contradict the Olympic Charter, which calls for "respect for fundamental universal ethical principles" and aims to "promote a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity".
The IOC's contortions are indicative of a short-sighted policy. They illustrate the pretense of an apolitical Olympism, even though Germany was completely banned from the 1920, 1924 and 1948 Games. No doubt Russia carries too much weight for us to dare offend it for more than one year.
More than 200 Ukrainian sportsmen and women have already fallen to Russian bombs and bullets. How can we even imagine that their comrades will be able to compete peacefully against Russian athletes - the majority of whom are officers! - in the "mutual understanding, spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play" required by the Olympic Charter?
On the other hand, how can we imagine that Russian sportsmen and women (apart from a few dissidents in exile) could today denounce the war of aggression being waged by their country, where such statements would earn them up to 15 years in prison?
This is why we support the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who changed her position on 7 February, stating that "if the decision is left to the IOC", she "does not want" any Russian athletes at the Paris 2024 Olympics. In the tug-of-war between the Ukrainian government and the International Olympic Committee, we call on the Mayor of Paris to firmly maintain her current position.
We also call on the IOC, as well as all the sports federations and more generally all those who are committed to Olympic principles, to clearly refuse the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions until the Russian army has returned behind its internationally recognised borders.