IOC President Thomas Bach Wants Russian, Belarusian Athletes At Paris 2024

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has changed its tone regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

After proposing the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from international sporting events back in February, which would effectively bar them from qualifying and ultimately participating in the 2024 Games, IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press conference Wednesday that he wants to see them given the opportunity to compete.

“What we never did, and we never wanted to do, is [prohibit] athletes from participating in sports only because of their passport,” Bach said. “As we have always done with regard to the many other conflicts and wars in past and present, the Olympic movement must be a unifying force and not a dividing force.”

Bach’s stance aligns with a recent United Nations resolution, which concluded that major international sports events “should be organized in the spirit of peace”, and that “the unifying and conciliative nature of such events should be respected”.

Bach has remained steadfast in his distinction that the sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments remain in place, but said athlete participation is a different conversation.

“The question of athletes’ participation was never part, and could not be part of the sanctions,” he said. “The question of athletes’ participation was a protective measure to safeguard the integrity of international sports competitions and to ensure the safety of athletes from these two countries.

“Because following the outbreak of this war, some governments started to decide which athletes would be allowed to participate in international sports competitions – and which athletes would not, for instance by not issuing visas for athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus.”

Bach went on to state that while numerous national governments threatened to pull out of certain competitions if Russian and Belarusians were allowed to compete, that was against the unifying mission of sport.

“The participation of athletes in sports events can only be on sporting merit and with those athletes who respect the rules of sport,” he said.

“We cannot allow governments to decide on political grounds who can participate. This would put the international sports model at risk, and we will never accept that. It is also against the international resolutions that governments signed up to.

“This put us in this big dilemma: We had to act against our values and our mission to unify the entire world in peaceful competition. We had to prohibit athletes from participating only because of their passport.

“This is why we have made it very clear from the very beginning that we need to explore ways to overcome this dilemma with regard to athletes’ participation.”

Bach had a similar sentiment in October, urging national federations not to punish the athletes while being adamant that all sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments needed to remain.

Certain sports organizations have continued to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete, such as tennis’ U.S. Open and the National Hockey League (NHL), while others, including FINA, have banned them. FINA’s current ban will be in place for the remainder of this year, though it is expected to be extended as long as Russia’s war with Ukraine continues.

Bach seemed to indicate he would still be in favor of allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in Paris if the war was still ongoing.

“All the members of the IOC EB emphasized the importance for the Olympic Movement to accomplish its unifying mission as it has always done with regard to too many other conflicts and wars, past and present.

“The Olympic Movement must be a unifying force and not a dividing force.”

At the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in March, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) banned Russian and Belarusian athletes after a number of nations indicated they would pull out if Russian and Belarusians were able to compete. The IPC had initially allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag.

There have been over 6,700 people killed and more than 10,600 injured since Russian first invaded Ukraine in February, according to

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1 year ago

This really isn’t too surprising, the previous status quo had been Russia awkwardly participating without national symbols. It would also be unprecedented to entirely bar a country from the games.

However what is different now is that the Russian government itself may not tolerate such terms and not send athletes to participate unless they can compete as Russia under the Russian banner, as the perceived insult can simply not be condoned anymore in their view. However two years time may very change things, especially given that the current trajectory of the war doesn’t make such arrogance seem sustainable.

rob davis
1 year ago

Really, you have to wonder if Vlady Putin deposited funds in a Swiss bank for Mr. Bach.

Sid Frisco
1 year ago

Just No

1 year ago

I somewhat agree, just because you’re a Russian national doesn’t mean you agree with what is going on. I think they should be allowed to participate but perhaps under the Olympic flag and not their country’s flag.

1 year ago

This man is dangerous

1 year ago


Yea, his pockets won’t fill themselves.

John Bradley
1 year ago

Absolutely not.

Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

He is totally clueless. This is going to lead to an uproar by prominent athletes especially Ukrainians. Anna Rhyzykova posted on Instagram just last week that nobody wants to compete alongside Russian terrorists. The high jump superstar Yaroslava Mahuchikyh has steadily been more vocal along the same lines.

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

“Russian terrorists” lol.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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