The debate on the participation, or not, of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Olympic Games (OJ) in Paris in 2024, has agitated the world of sport for several months. Relatively discreet on this issue until then, Vladimir Putin sharply attacked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday, October 19, accusing it of “ethnic discrimination” during a speech on sport in Perm, in the Urals.

If the body based in Lausanne (Sussie) has not yet decided on the presence of Russian athletes at the summer high mass, it has already conditioned this eventuality on a series of criteria: participation on an individual basis, the teams being excluded; under a neutral banner, that is to say without an anthem or flag; provided that those engaged have not “actively supported the war in Ukraine” and are not under contract with the army or security services.

Their participation would therefore necessarily be limited, to the great displeasure of the President of the Russian Federation. “Thanks to some leaders of the current International Olympic Committee, we have learned that (…) the Games themselves can be used as an instrument of political pressure against people who have nothing to do with politics and, facto, [as a] crude instrument of racist, ethnic discrimination,” castigated Vladimir Putin.

For the IOC, “an invitation to the Games is not an unconditional right for the best athletes, but a kind of privilege,” criticized the Kremlin strongman.

The suspension of the Russian National Olympic Committee

Russian athletes, and their Belarusian counterparts, were banned from all international competitions after the offensive in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. In March 2023, the IOC, however, recommended their reinstatement to international competitions outside the Games, at condition, again, that they respond to the model of neutrality decreed by the body.

The latter postponed its final decision on the Olympic meeting “at the appropriate time”. kyiv, for its part, threatened to boycott the Paris Olympics if Russians and Belarusians were allowed to participate. Several European countries have already expressed their support for the Ukrainians.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has already voted in favor of the participation of Russians and Belarusians under a neutral banner and under strict conditions of neutrality in the Paris Paralympic Games.

Another point of tension between the Russian authorities and the IOC is the suspension, on October 12, of the Russian national Olympic committee, for having placed under its authority several sports organizations in the Ukrainian regions occupied by the Kremlin army.