Participation from Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris is up in the air.
Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Craig Reedie says the two nations may end up being banned from competing at the Games.
On Tuesday, Reedie said that while a final determination on Russia and Belarus’ status is still to be made, there’s no clear path to offer them representation at the Games.
In addition to the general sentiment that they shouldn’t be permitted to compete, another roadblock to Olympic participation for Russia and Belarus is the fact that their athletes have been banned from participating in the vast majority of other international sporting events, which in turn will prevent them from qualifying for the Games.
The only Olympic sports that have continued to allow Russian and Belarusian participation are cycling, tennis and judo. However, Reedie added that he doubts athletes in those sports would even be permitted to compete in Olympic qualifying events.
“A decision is going to have to be taken on what happens to each of these two countries, and my guess is that the general feeling would be that they should not qualify,” Reedie, the former IOC vice-president, told British media.
“Most people are struggling with how we could achieve some degree of representation, but at the moment, there is no clear way to do it. Therefore, you maintain the status quo.”
Following the onset of the invasion in February, the IOC issued a recommendation for all sports federations to ban Russia and Belarus from competing indefinitely.
IOC President Thomas Bach said that Russian participation in Paris was unclear back in May, mentioning that it was not fair to blame the athletes for decisions made by their government, but banning them was a necessary protective measure given the circumstances.
Both Russian IOC members have notably remained eligible to take part in Olympic meetings.
Reedie, who is also the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), mentioned that it would be difficult to have sports begin their qualification process for the Games with Russians and Belarusians banned, and then allow them to enter the fold midway through.
“It’s quite difficult halfway through to say, ‘All of you who have now qualified we’ve changed the rules’,” Reedie said.
“So there’s a real issue for the federations, who have a clear instruction which they’ve agreed to that they won’t invite Russians and Belarusians to take part in events.
“On the face of it, it’s unlikely that anybody would qualify other than those three sports (cycling, tennis and judo) which don’t do it that way. And will they be able to qualify (from those three sports)? I’m not sure.”
In May, All-Russian Swimming Federation President Vladimir Salnikov said that if Russia’s participation at the 2024 Games is restricted, they would go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to try and gain entry.
At both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, Russian athletes competed under the “ROC” banner, representing the Russian Olympic Committee, after they received a two-year ban from WADA in 2019.
After the invasion in late February, Russians and Belarusians were then banned from competing at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in March.