The executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted Thursday to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) indefinitely for recognizing sports organizations in four regions illegally annexed from Ukraine.
The ROC will no longer have access to IOC funding after breaching the Olympic Charter by absorbing Olympic Councils in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.
Notably, however, the ROC’s latest sanctions will not have any impact on the IOC potentially allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as individual neutrals at the Paris 2024 Olympics, according to IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
“The unilateral decision taken by the Russian Olympic Committee on 5 October 2023 to include, as its members, the regional sports organizations which are under the authority of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ukraine (namely Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia) constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter because it violates the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in accordance with the Olympic Charter,” the IOC said in a statement. “The Russian Olympic Committee is suspended with immediate effect until further notice.”
Back in June, Russia absorbed 22 sports federations in its illegally annexed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) — including swimming — as part of an effort to “accelerate the integration of new regions into Russian sports life.” Last February, Russia recognized the DPR as a sovereign state, three days before invading Ukraine under the guise of protecting the region. Then last September, Russia used illegitimate referendums to annex the DPR and other occupied territories amid international condemnation.
A couple weeks ago, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as individual neutrals while their national committees serve two-year suspensions for the ongoing war in Ukraine. Last month, the IOC said Russian and Belarusian athletes couldn’t compete at the Asian Games due to “technical reasons” after previously advocating for them to participate in event. Similarly, earlier this month, European soccer body UEFA reversed course and banned Russian teams from U17 Euros after pushback from member federations.