Athletes Lawyer

Keeping You In The Game

IOC and USOPC support Russian athletes’ participation in 2024 Olympics

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2023 | Current Events |

International athletic competition often has political overtones as governments position athletic organizations to reflect their agendas. The inclusion or exclusion of Russian athletes in the upcoming Olympics certainly qualifies, with Russia waging war in Ukraine and still censured for systemic doping at the Olympics and other competitions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) supports the Russian and Belarusian competing at the Paris Summer Olympics in 2024. Still, one caveat remains from the recent Olympics – the athletes do not compete under their nation’s flag. International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach recently said something similar about the athletes even if the war in Ukraine continues.

This change is a turnabout for the USOPC and IOC, which had previously advocated banning the athletes because of the war and the 2022 doping debacle involving young Russian skater Kamila Valieva.

The impact

After drawing a line in the sand and calling for a ban as recently as the middle of 2022, the reversal presents headaches for other international sporting bodies that still ban the athletes from their competitions. Moreover, these federations may produce qualifying events that athletes compete at to make the Olympic cut.

The right decision

Some may remember that Wimbledon and the Boston Marathon excluded Russian and Belarusian athletes in 2022 after pressure from the government. In response, the IOC and others moved at the end of 2022 to allow the athletes to compete because it unfairly singles out athletes and reflects the ideals of competition and inclusion despite the behavior of their governments.

This is the right call if we can guarantee everyone’s safety. Athletes certainly represent their countries during international competition, but they should not be held accountable for a government’s decision because they have no control over it. Neutrality and inclusivity in sports will likely be increasingly crucial in the coming years if these competitions are to advocate sportsmanship and fair play among all.