US Says Russian Athletes Should Compete Under Neutral Flag At Olympics, Resists Ban
Amid calls from Ukrainian officials to ban all Russian and Belarusian athletes from the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic summer games, the White House has issued a statement saying it agrees with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy of allowing the two countries to compete under a neutral flag.
“In cases where sports organizations and event organizers, such as the International Olympics Committee, choose to permit athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in sporting events, they should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarus states,” Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday.
She added that “the use of official state Russia and Belarus flags… should be prohibited as well.” The IOC last week had ruled that this will be the policy moving forward due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But Kiev has consistently demanded that it’s for Russia to suffer “complete isolation” on the world stage, including at international sporting events. President Zelensky in a December phone call with IOC president Thomas Bach requested that Russia not even be able to participate as a neutral team.
“Since February, 184 Ukrainian athletes have died as a result of Russia’s actions,” Zelensky said in the call. “One cannot try to be neutral when the foundations of peaceful life are being destroyed and universal human values are being ignored.”
Bach had defended the committee’s the position that “Athletes cannot be punished for acts of their government as long as they do not contribute or support it.” He explained, “What we never did and we never want to do is prohibiting athletes from participating in sports only because of their passport.”
Based on the latest IOC ruling, neither Russian nor Belarusian officials will be allowed to attend the games, and essentially all Russian or Belarusian national displays will be banned.
Sat, 02/04/2023 – 15:30