British Olympic Association Open to Neutral Russian and Belarus Athletes at Paris 2024


British Olympic Association Open to Neutral Russian and Belarus Athletes at Paris 2024

Andy Anson, the Chief Executive of the British Olympic Association, has expressed the organization’s willingness to accept Russian and Belarus athletes at the Paris 2024 Olympics, provided they compete as completely neutral individuals. Anson stated that the British Olympic Association and Team GB support the inclusion of independent athletes and do not want athletes to be continually punished for global conflicts.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has yet to make a decision on allowing Russian and Belarus athletes to participate in the Paris Games. An IOC ruling is expected early next year. The Russian Olympic Committee currently faces IOC membership suspension due to the inclusion of four annexed Ukrainian regions, breaching the ‘Olympic Charter.’ The final decision is pending at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Anson, after consulting Team GB athletes, revealed that a compromise position had been agreed upon. The proposal is for Russian and Belarus athletes to compete in Paris as neutral individuals, with no affiliations to the military or support for the conflict in Ukraine.

Under the neutral athlete status, competitors cannot display the Russian flag, logo, or any association with the Russian state. They are also prohibited from flying the Russian flag or having the Russian national anthem played.

Anson explained, “Any Russian or Belarussian athlete present will be doing so clearly as an independent. We are happy with that, happy that as long as it’s not teams representing Russia, as long as they are not affiliated with the military, we are supportive of that.”

Despite the potential inclusion of independent Russian athletes, Anson expects a smaller contingent compared to Tokyo 2020, potentially around 100 instead of 400. The British Olympic Association aims to strike a balance between allowing athletes to compete and addressing the ongoing global conflicts.

Anson emphasized the ongoing dialogue with athletes and affirmed the organization’s contentment with the current solution. Looking ahead to Paris 2024, he expressed excitement about the prospect of a “home Games” experience and reiterated Team GB’s goal to finish in the top five in the medal table.

While the Tokyo Games were affected by COVID-19, the Paris Olympics are expected to have greater attendance, bringing security concerns. The British Olympic Association is confident in its collaboration with French authorities, the British Embassy in Paris, and British security and intelligence services to address these challenges.

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