Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin says more “reasonable” positions are emerging from international federations
The Russian Sports Ministry said there is growing evidence that the “politicization” sport is no longer tolerable. The ministry was responding to comments from US Olympic officials regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in global competitions.
President of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), Susanne Lyons, confirmed on Monday that her organization supports a recent statement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which said it would explore ways for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete. under neutral conditions. status in international tournaments.
The move was seen as a step forward for athletes from both countries and their chances of being cleared in time to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Russian and Belarusian athletes have been barred from a wide variety of sports since an IOC recommendation issued in late February, following the launch of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Reacting to the shift in stance by US Olympic officials, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin suggested it signaled a broader awareness that his country’s athletes should return.
“Increasingly, reasonable statements are being heard in the global sports community about the inadmissibility of the politicization of sport,” Matytsin said in comments shared by TASS on Monday.
“The level of international competitions has dropped due to the absence of Russian and Belarusian athletes.
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions, the decision is up to the International Olympic Committee.
“The Russian Sports Ministry hopes that the IOC will listen to the opinion of sports experts and bring the Olympic movement back to a path outside of politics.
“Our athletes deserve to participate in the Olympic Games – they have prepared for the most important competitions of their careers all their professional lives.”
The USOPC, Russian and Chinese Olympic Committees were among those attending the IOC summit in Lausanne, Switzerland on Friday.
The subsequent IOC statement noted a proposal by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in tournaments under its auspices.
The IOC said it had been “unanimously approved” that the offer should be explored, while the organization also confirmed its commitment to statements from figures like French President Emmanuel Macron, who said sport should not be subject to political influence.
The IOC has previously argued that the bans imposed on Russian and Belarusian athletes served to “protect” them of the supposed hostility they would face outside their home country.
This position is under review, after the Olympic Council of Asia declared that “on the Asian continent, the reasons for protective measures no longer exist.”
The IOC acknowledged that this could also be the case elsewhere, but added the caveat that any potential return for Russian and Belarusian athletes would be without their national symbols and anthems.
Speaking on Monday, US Olympic official Lyons admitted that “Prohibiting individual athletes from competing is difficult for the [Olympic] movement to tolerate.
“But there was absolute agreement that this [return for Russian and Belarusian athletes] should be strict neutrality,” adds Lyons.
“It can’t be the colors, it can’t be the name of the country. Stricter neutrality should be maintained.