Olympics-IOC Recommends Banning Russian, Belarusian Athletes From International Events

In response to the current war in Ukraine initiated by Russia, the Olympics have been put in a predicament as many Ukrainian athletes are prevented from participating because of the attack on their country. Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from some international sporting competitions after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended such bans to protect the integrity of the events and safety of the other participants. No timeline has been recommended for how long the ban should last. “The Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, World Championships and World Cups and many other sports events unite athletes of countries which are in confrontation and sometimes even war,” according to an IOC press release.

FIFA and World Curling were the first international sports federations under the Olympic umbrella to act after the IOC announcement. FIFA and the Union of Europeans Football Associations (UEFA) said Russian national and club teams are suspended from their soccer competitions until further notice. World Curling announced that, barring objections from its member associations, it will remove Russia from upcoming world championships. The International Ice Hockey Federation announced Russia and Belarus are banned from competition until further notice, potentially ruling them out of world championships. World Rugby also suspended Russia and Belarus until further notice.

Russian athletes are already banned from competing under the Russian flag at major international competitions into December due to the nation’s doping violations. However, they have been able to compete as neutral athletes or under the names of the Russian Olympic Committee or their national federations.

The IOC board urged all international competitions scheduled in Russia or Belarus to be canceled or relocated, and said that Russia, which invaded Ukraine, and Belarus, whose government supported Russia, violated the Olympic Truce. It calls for peace over a period from seven days before the Olympics through seven days after the Paralympics.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has not announced a decision on Russian and Belarusian athlete’s participation. “The IPC acknowledges the statement made earlier by the IOC Executive Board and have been in close dialogue with the IOC regarding the breach of the Olympic Truce,” an IPC spokesperson said.

“At the same time, the Olympic Movement is united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they are not actively participating in them. We are committed to fair competitions for everybody without any discrimination.” The situation is an unfortunate, and I am sure was a difficult conclusion to come to. The world is standing behind Ukraine and acting to attempt to dissuade Russia from further assaults. This motif is showcased in different ways, from economic sanctions to travel bans to barring sports competitions, and are all generally done to protect the integrity and safety of all countries and participants. This is a potentially effective way to address this conflict, compared to Russia’s use of force, to isolate Russia and use geopolitical relations to force a surrender and end to the fighting.