VLADIVOSTOK, September 12. /TASS/. The national flag and anthem are significant for athletes but each person can make their own decision regarding country affiliation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday speaking at the plenary session of the 2023 Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
The Russian Sports Ministry reported earlier in the month that as many as 55 Olympians had changed their national affiliation and this figure exceeded 100 athletes including non-Olympic sports. Next year, the French capital of Paris is set to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games between July 26 and August 11, 2024.
"I am not judging anyone. But simply, it has a special significance for athletes, particularly high-level athletes, when the national anthem is played and the national flag is raised as they step on the podium. However, in the end, each person makes his or her own choice," Putin said.
Speaking about the ban on athletes from Russia and Belarus from the 2024 Olympics in France, Putin reiterated "that athletes spent decades trying to reach their goal, and now will be unable to realize it because of political reasons."
"You should know that there is another side to it," Putin continued. "I do not know if it’s suitable to put it this way, but some people say that sports at the international level is a sublimation of war. There is something to this."
The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) is taking place in Vladivostok on September 10-13. The slogan for this year’s forum is: On the Path to Partnership, Peace and Prosperity. The Roscongress Foundation is the event organizer. TASS is the EEF’s general information partner.
IOC’s sanctions against Russia
On February 28, 2022, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued recommendations to international sports federations to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in international tournaments, citing Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine as the reason.
Following the IOC’s recommendations in late February 2022, the majority of global sports federations decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from all international sports tournaments.
At its session on January 25, 2023, the IOC Executive Board put forward a proposal to permit individual athletes from Russia and Belarus to take part in international sports tournaments, but only under certain conditions. Specifically, athletes from the two countries should not be "actively supporting" Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and must compete under a neutral status. Russia and Belarus were also banned from participating in international team events.