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Russian and Belarusian Athletes Face Potential Olympic Ban

Taylor Dyer

March 23, 2023


With the 2024 Summer Olympic games fast approaching, there is substantial uncertainty over whether Russian athletes will be allowed to compete, following their country’s barbaric and entirely unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

There are discussions on whether to flat-out ban Russian athletes altogether or to have them compete under a neutral flag. 

On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of troops to cross the border and march into Ukraine. Since then thousands of Ukrainian troops and civilians have lost their lives, with millions more being displaced.

According to the Guardian, the UK, and 34 other countries believe the crisis in Ukraine has gotten worse since the International Olympics Committee initially decided to impose a ban.

Concerns About Banning All Russian and Belarusian Athletes

According to the AP, the IOC has warned that barring all Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the 2024 Paris games could amount to discrimination. However, the International Paralympics committee did not prohibit Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic games. That was shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

Some might argue that it is unfair for Russian and Belarusian athletes who do not support the war in Ukraine to be banned simply because of their place of birth. An all-out ban appears to imply that all Russian and Belarusian athletes are supporters of the war.

Concerns About Athletes Competing Under A Neutral Flag

As mentioned, another option is having Russian and Belarusian athletes compete under a neutral flag. However, the problem with this is that both are strongly supported by their states, and many Russian athletes have strong ties with the Russian military

The United States has even chimed in on the debate stating that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to compete but only under a neutral flag. However, the term neutral itself still needs to be clarified.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took a step towards clarifying the term neutral by stating, “it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing Russian or Belarusian states.” However, there is still the matter of how one proves they are not representing those states and how neutrality will be monitored.

While it remains unclear what a ban, if any, could look like. Whatever is decided, there could be potential consequences for both sides. If an all-out ban is enforced, there could be protests from athletes who may feel discriminated against; however performing as a neutral athlete makes it hard to tell whether they are against President Putin's decision to invade Ukraine.


 Edited by: Yasmin

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Tags: Olympics athletes ban Paris 2024 flag Russian IOC neutral Belarusian


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