Olympic committee recommends Russian and Belarusian athletes be banned from international competitions

Olympic flag
(Image credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee is recommending Russian and Belarusian athletes not be invited to any international competitions amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Olympic Committee's Executive Board made the recommendation on Monday, less than a week after Russia invaded Ukraine. The IOC said it doesn't want to "punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they are not actively participating in them" but is facing a dilemma that "cannot be solved" amid the war because "while athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country."

With this in mind, the IOC said it's recommending with "a heavy heart" that all sporting event organizers "not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions" in order to "protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants." Additionally, in instances where this is not possible, the committee urged organizations to at least ensure the athletes aren't able to "take part under the name of Russia or Belarus." Belarus is reportedly preparing to deploy troops to help Russia in the invasion of Ukraine.

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"The IOC EB reaffirms its full solidarity with the Ukrainian Olympic Community," the IOC said. "They are in our hearts and thoughts."

Previously, the European Broadcasting Union announced Russia would be banned from the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest due to the Ukraine invasion. The IOC also previously recommended that all sporting events planned for Russia or Belarus be relocated or canceled, citing the countries' "breach of the Olympic Truce."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.