Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), once again referred to the possible boycott of the Paris 2024 Games if the presence of athletes from Russia and Belarus in the French capital was confirmed.
“I want to be very clear, the time has not yet come to talk about the Olympic Games in Paris. It’s too early,” Bach said and, therefore, the leader also stated that “it’s too early to talk about any kind of boycott.”
The statements were made in Cuba, as part of a visit in which the president of the IOC toured sports facilities and met with local authorities. “Cubans can be very proud of their great successes,” he said.
Bach, who after Cuba continued his tour to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, explained that for the time being they are in dialogue with each of the Federations to hear their opinions on the situation of Russian and Belarusian athletes.
Bach stressed that the IOC will “consider everything” they receive in response to their queries and reiterated that they will continue to “explore” all alternatives in search of a solution to a situation that began in February of last year when Russia decided to invade Ukraine.
Although the IOC has not yet confirmed that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be present at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, it was open to the possibility of them participating under a “neutral” flag, as long as they have not been in favor of the invasion of Ukraine.
The International Olympic Committee always mentioned “not discriminating against athletes because of their passport” and assured that “the Olympic Movement must be a unifying force and not a dividing one”, a position that received harsh responses, such as that of the European Union.
The European Parliament approved a resolution in which it condemned “the recent decision of the International Olympic Committee to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag in the qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, which contravenes the multidimensional isolation of these countries and will be used by both regimes for propaganda purposes”, at the same time asking “Member States and the international community to pressure the IOC to revoke this decision”.
After learning about this European Union resolution, a group of 35 countries made a joint statement in which they expressed concerns regarding the so-called “neutrality” under which athletes from Russia and Belarus could be present in the French capital.
The text, which came after the meeting held by the sports ministers of each country, in which the president of Ukraine Volodymir Zelenski was also present, mentioned the “great concerns about how feasible it is for Russian and Belarusian Olympic athletes to compete as’ neutrals’, under the conditions of the IOC of non-identification with their country, when they are directly financed and supported by their states”.
Although it is still too early for Bach to talk about a possible boycott of Paris 2024, the president of the International Olympic Committee has already made his opinion very clear: “As history has shown, the previous ones did not achieve their political objectives and only served to punish athletes.”