Russia could be banned from team sports at next year's Paris Olympics under conditions being considered to allow athletes from the country to compete
Russia could be banned from team sports at next year’s Paris Olympics under conditions being considered to allow athletes from the country to compete as ‘neutrals’ at the Games.
Sportsmail has learned preventing Russia from participating in team sports such as football, handball and volleyball – which would effectively bar them from Olympic qualifiers – is among the options that have been discussed as part of a framework for international federations to follow.
Olympic chiefs are devising ‘strict’ criteria for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete neutrally at international events, paving the way for them to take part in some form at Paris 2024 – despite widespread criticism and boycott threats.
The International Olympic Committee is also considering barring Russian competitors who have been guilty of ‘war crimes‘, as well as those that have actively supported the invasion of Ukraine and with links to the military.
But the IOC is risking a serious backlash as a UN expert advising the organisation has said those who are members of the Russian army should not be automatically excluded – even if they have been part of the military presence that has wreaked destruction on Ukraine.
Russia could be banned from team sports at the 2024 Olympics in Paris as chiefs crack down amid their country’s invasion of Ukraine
Rival countries and protest groups have called on Russia to be excluded entirely amid attempts by athletes to compete neutrally
A ban on team sports would be a considerable blow to Russia. The neutral women’s volleyball team took silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but their football sides have not qualified for the Games since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Russia has competed neutrally at the last three Olympics because of state-sponsored doping but Sportsmail understands the conditions being explored will be tougher than ever before due to the war in Ukraine.
Rules on Russian athletes’ uniform at global competitions in 2023 will be tightened. No Russian insignia will be permitted on clothing, while the country’s flag and anthem will also be banned.
The IOC initially recommended banning all Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sport before announcing in January that they would draw up a pathway for them to participate as neutrals.
Any ban would be a huge blow to Russia ahead of the Paris Games – with rules on athletes from the country already set to be tightened
Ukraine and other countries – including Britain – have criticised this plan and have urged the IOC to exclude them entirely because of Russia’s full-scale invasion of the nation, which began in February 2022.
In a joint statement on Monday, Britain was among the countries to have again called on the IOC to return to their previous stance of excluding Russians and Belarusians from international events.
Russian and Belarusian athletes remain banned from athletics due to the war. Russia’s suspension for doping was lifted after nearly eight years last week but World Athletics president Sebastian Coe announced they would not be eligible for major events ‘for the foreseeable future’ as a result of the invasion.