MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. The concept of allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in international tournaments under a neutral flag is well established and in line with the Olympic Charter, the International Olympic Committee said in a statement on Monday.
The statement is a response to an open letter from UN Human Rights Council rapporteurs Alexandra Xanthaki and Tendayi Achiume that they addressed to IOC President Thomas Bach and published on September 14, 2022. The UN rapporteurs expressed concern about the recommendation to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes from international competitions, saying a ban that’s based on nationality raises serious issues of non-discrimination.
"The concept under discussion [for Russians and Belarusians to compete in international tournaments as neutral athletes] is supported by the vast majority of the Olympic Movement <…> and reflects what we have seen in practice during the last two weeks at the Australian Open," the IOC said. "Athletes competed in the tournament as individual athletes under a neutral flag without any identification of their country. The concept is well established, and also used in cycling and a number of professional leagues across North America and Europe. The principles upon which the concept is based are in line with the Olympic Charter."
The core part of the Australian Open tennis tournament took place from January 16-29 in Melbourne. Serbia’s Novak Djokovic got the prize in men’s singles, while Belarus’s Aryna Sabalenka won the women’s singles title.
The IOC recommended at the end of February 2022 that international sports federations ban Russians and Belarussians from competitions following the events in Ukraine. The IOC issued new recommendations on January 25, proposing to allow athletes from these countries to participate in competitions as neutral athletes if they haven’t actively supported the special military operation in Ukraine.