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Unacceptable to shut Russian athletes out of Asian Games — Russian Olympic head

"They did not even inform us that they reconsidered their decision to invite us," Stanislav Pozdnyakov noted

MOSCOW, September 27. /TASS/. The effective ban on Russian athletes’ participation in the Asian Games is inadmissible from a diplomatic point of view, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in an interview with TASS.

In July, the General Assembly of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) supported a suggestion voiced at the Olympic Summit to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the Games. However, the Russian side subsequently never received an invitation.

"Let’s return to the Olympic Summit, where Acting President of the Olympic Council of Asia Randhir Singh was speaking," Pozdnyakov said. "After (International Olympic Committee [IOC] President) Thomas Bach proposed seeking ways to bring Russian and Belarusian athletes back, he said that it would be nice to begin with the Asian continent, presumably with the Asian Games. Following this, the OCA director general called me and said: '500 spots have been reserved for you, we are expecting your athletes.'"

"We started waiting for the necessary specifics in terms of selection, logistics, the official invitation, after all," the ROC head continued. "However, we were simply stonewalled by the other side. And on September 23, the Games kicked off. From the point of view of diplomacy, I think that such things are simply unacceptable; they did not even inform us that they reconsidered their decision to invite us," he added.

Pozdnyakov noted that, given public statements, such actions are perplexing. "Even considering the fact that the Olympic Council of Asia got into trouble related to elections that the International Olympic Committee did not recognize as legitimate," he said. "These problems have also somewhat affected the fact that, in the end, there are no athletes from Russia at the Asian Games. The Games are being held in China, [the strong] relations between our countries would have removed all security issues and the geographical closeness excludes any logistics issues. Yet, the IOC’s stance turned out to be counterproductive," he concluded.

In late March 2023, the IOC recommended that individual athletes from Russia and Belarus be permitted to compete in international sports tournaments, but only under certain conditions. Specifically, athletes from the two countries should not have voiced "active support" for Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and must compete under a neutral status. Additionally, they would still be barred from team events. As of now, the IOC has not yet made a final decision on permitting Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the Paris Olympics in 2024.