The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said it supports the return of a neutral flag for Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics, who have been banned from major sporting competitions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of last February. This after the summit that took place a few days ago between IOC delegates revealed that it is in everyone’s interest that they can find a way to allow these athletes to return to competition.
“There is a real will that this can happen, because our job is to bring everyone together in peace in the world of sport,” UEFA President Suzanne Lyons told reporters. “The Olympic Movement – he said – cannot tolerate that these athletes are denied the opportunity to compete,” he added.
On December 9 in Lausanne, the International Olympic Committee raised the possibility that some Asian competitions could be the first stage on the path to reintegrating athletes from Russia and Belarus, and the fact that they could be brought together under a neutral flag would make this possible. To avoid the dangers of a boycott as was the case in the 70’s and 80’s. “There are conflicts all over the world, countries are at war every day, and if people decide to boycott this or that demonstration in response (“You didn’t come to our games, so we won’t come to yours,” he adds) the core of the Olympic and Paralympic movement will quickly disappear. In any case, concludes Susan Lyons, this neutrality must be “rigid, and there can be no colors or names of countries.” During the last Olympic Games, in February, Russian athletes were already forced to compete under the banner of the Olympic Committee, and not under the banner of Russia, where Moscow always has to face sanctions due to scandal over state doping, yet many Russian athletes have been featured in. China dressed like Russian colours.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the Olympic movement would also like to study the possibility of ensuring a return to competitions for athletes who never supported Russia in the Ukrainian conflict, which, according to Suzanne Lyons, could be. It is impossible to apply it. “Nevertheless, there is agreement on the return of athletes who did not actively support Moscow,” he concluded.
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