THE International Olympic Committee (IOC) welcomes the reference to sport in its leaders’ statement G7 (‘Group of Seven’: France, USA, UK, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada) on Ukraine, which they issued during the summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

The statement said the G7 “fully respects the autonomy of sports organizations” and wants to ensure that “Russian and Belarusian athletes will not appear under any circumstances as representatives of their countries”.

IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The IOC warmly welcomes the G7’s support for the autonomy of sport and the IOC’s recommendations on the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport, only as individual, neutral athletes. This commitment to the autonomy of sports organizations comes at a critical time, when it is threatened by a few governments. We are therefore very grateful to the G7 leaders for their clear statement.”

As clarified by IOC the recommendations – from March 28, 2023 – state:

* Athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport must only compete as Individual Neutral Athletes.

* Teams of athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports cannot compete.

* Athletes who actively support the war cannot compete. Support personnel actively supporting the war may not enter.

* Athletes contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security services may not compete.

* Sanctions against those responsible for the war, the states and governments of Russia and Belarus, must remain in force:

* There are no international sporting events organized in Russia or Belarus.

* No flag, anthem, colors or any other identity of these countries is displayed at any sporting event or meeting.

* No government or state official of Russia and Belarus may be invited or accredited for any international sporting event or meeting.

Then as the IOC states “unfortunately, some countries, especially European ones, go beyond these very strict IOC recommendations. They put up barriers to prevent athletes from their countries from participating in international competitions and against organizers of international competitions on their territory.”

Thomas Bach added: “The IOC sincerely hopes that these countries will take the G7 statement seriously so that international sport can once again live up to its mission of uniting the world in peaceful competition.”