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IOC rejects Friendship Games organizing committee's bid to dispel political bias

"It’s strange for us to hear accusations and being deprived at the same time of holding a substantial dialogue," the director general of the Friendship Games Organizing Committee noted

MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is not giving the organizing committee of the 2024 World Friendship Games a chance to make its case that the upcoming games have no political agenda, Director General of the Friendship Games Organizing Committee Alexey Sorokin told reporters.

There are absolutely no criteria that can be linked to politics as our tournament is entirely focused on athletes and their drive to compete, and there are no discriminatory practices at hand," Sorokin said speaking at the "We Are Together: Sport" forum in Moscow.

"We should all recall quite clearly the words of Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, who said that even Ukrainian athletes would be allowed to participate in the World Friendship Games," he continued.

"It’s strange for us to hear accusations and being deprived at the same time of holding a substantial dialogue," Sorokin noted. "We could have convinced everyone that there was no political aspect in the tournament if such dialogue took place."

2024 World Friendship Games

Moscow and Yekaterinburg in Russia’s Urals region are slated to co-host the 2024 World Friendship Games on September 15-29.

In December 2023, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) cautioned National Olympic Committees (NOCs) against participating in the World Friendship Games in Russia next year, as this would violate the global Olympic body’s recommendations.

Last November, WADA chief Banka warned that certain sanctions could be in place against international athletes willing to participate in the 2024 World Friendship Games. He said in particular that: "The possible participation in those competitions of those who are parties to the WADA Code, may have certain consequences."

IOC’s regulations against Russia

The International Olympic Committee Executive Board convened for a meeting at the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 19-20 and following the opening day it decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in the Parade of Athletes and also exclude them from the 2024 Olympics overall medal standings.

The IOC, however, ruled that Russian athletes, cleared to participate in the upcoming Olympics, would not have to sign anything denouncing their country’s special military operation in Ukraine.

On October 12, 2023, the IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) until further notice after the Russian organization included the Olympic councils of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions as its members.

The Swiss-based CAS registered on November 6, 2023 an appeal from the ROC against the IOC’s decision on the Russian governing Olympic body’s suspension.

The suspension means that the ROC cannot act as a national Olympic committee or receive financing from the Olympic movement. The IOC however reserved the right to clear Russian athletes to take part in the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 as neutrals. Later, IOC President Thomas Bach said that Russian athletes should have no affiliation with the ROC if they want to compete at the Olympic Games.