World athletics maintains the ban on Russian athletes before the Paris Olympics

The World Athletics Organization said on Thursday that athletes from Russia and Belarus will remain barred from competing, including from qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris next year, as part of the sanctions for the war in Ukraine.

The move set off a high-profile confrontation between one of the biggest sports federations and the International Olympic Committee.

The sports body that governs competition rules and world championships in athletics, marathons and walking, says athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus will be excluded from all such events. “in the near future” and a working group will be formed to determine the necessary conditions for their reintegration at a later date.

The policy of putting World Athletics first in the face of a rift in the sports world over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in global events. It also contradicts comments by IOC president Thomas Bach in favor of neutral participation by athletes holding Russian and Belarusian passports.

“The death and devastation we have witnessed in Ukraine over the past year, including the deaths of approximately 185 athletes, further strengthens my resolve on this issue,” said Sebastian Coe, president. According to the World Athletics Federation.

This policy is the result of a number of bureaucratic tricks, as the World Athletics Organization initially said it would exclude Russians and Belarusians by March 2022.

At that time, Russian athletes were still suffering from The ban was issued in 2015 over the nation’s state-sponsored doping program, a sanction that the World Athletics Council lifted on Thursday, paving the way for the reaffirmation of exclusion because of the Ukraine war.

Many sports are entering a qualifying phase for next summer’s Paris Olympics, whereby athletes seek to qualify for matches based on international rankings, world championship results or other events. other criteria set by their sports federation.

The IOC, which governs the games but largely does not set eligibility criteria for the sports, has urged federations to allow the inclusion of “neutral” athletes, in part to prevent the boycott may occur.

IN a speech On Wednesday before a political forum in his home country of Germany, Bach said: “If politics decides who can enter a competition then sport and athletes become the tools of politics. Then sport cannot transfer its unifying power.”

Several sports bodies, including the International Fencing Federation, have in recent weeks voted to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to continue competing, prompting outcry from athletes. fencing Ukraine and their allies.

Last month, nearly three dozen countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Canada, wrote a letter to the IOC saying that “Russia and Belarus are at hand to pave the way for their athletes to return international sports competition. communities, namely by ending the war they have started”.

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