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Paris 2024: for Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the IOC’s recommendations “in no way prejudge” the presence of Russians and Belarusians

The French Minister of Sports and the Olympic Games (JO), Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, wanted to make things clear on Thursday March 30: the recommendation repeated on Tuesday, on the first day of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to Lausanne (Switzerland), to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes into international competitions, “does not prejudge anything” of what will happen at the Olympic Games, organized in Paris in 2024.

“If the international federations were to decide that there was this participation of individual athletes, it was under a strict regime of neutrality, without banners or flags, without anthems”, she insisted on the sidelines of a trip to Rosny-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis). The exchanges with his “counterparts from different countries” continue, to determine “the best that can be done”. And to say: “All this is a step. »

Three days earlier, the IOC President, Thomas Bach, had himself insisted that any decision concerning the participation of representatives of the two countries in the summer high mass would be taken. “at the appropriate time, in its sole discretion, and without being bound by the results of the Olympic qualifying events”.

Read also: The IOC reaffirms its desire to reinstate Russian and Belarusian athletes, but says nothing about Paris 2024

First official of the host country of the next Games to react on this subject since the speech of the German, Mme Oudéa-Castéra recalled that President Emmanuel Macron would speak on the subject in the summer. The voice of the Head of State “will be listened to in this reflection”she assures, even if “it is the IOC which has the last word, it is the IOC which sets the conditions for the participation of both Olympic and Paralympic athletes”.

Russian and Belarusian athletes have been excluded from most competitions, on the recommendation of this same IOC, since February 2022 and the invasion of Ukraine by Kremlin troops, with the help of Minsk.

If Ukraine had seemed to be satisfied, at least partially, with the last speech of the IOC – Vadym Huttsaït, the Minister of Sports and President of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee (NOC), rejoicing on Facebook that the decision “on the integration of Russians and Belarusians in the Olympics be postponed” –, the attempt at appeasement fizzled.

Restrictive criteria

On the Russian side, the body’s proposal was immediately met with anger. The IOC having argued in particular that any return would go through restrictive criteria: athletes will be able to re-enter international tournaments after validation by the federations concerned, only under a neutral banner, “individually” and respecting international anti-doping regulations. It is also necessary that they did not support “actively” the conflict in Ukraine and are not ” under contract “ with the army or any security body.

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Several supporters of kyiv, such as Poland, the Baltic States or even Germany, have also had little taste for the recommendations of the International Committee. The boss of the organizing committee of the European Games, which will take place in Krakow (Poland), from June 21 to July 2, has already warned that the two countries could not participate in this meeting which brings together ten -eight Olympic disciplines. “Under no pretext and in any way, the athletes representing Russia and Belarus will not take part in our events”said Marcin Nowak on RFM FM radio.

If certain international federations were then to decide that the European Games will not qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, the events in the disciplines concerned “simply won’t happen”he continued.

On Thursday, the Danish Fencing Federation, for its part, announced that it was giving up hosting the Trekanten International, a competition which was to be held in Copenhagen on October 7 and 8. “It is with a heavy heart that we take this decision, but we cannot support the return of Russian and Belarusian fencers to the slopes in the current circumstances”, writes its president, Jan Sylvest Jensen, in a statement sent to Agence France-Presse (AFP). And the latter to warn: “We also anticipate that there will be chaos at international competitions, as fencers are likely to refuse to face Russian and Belarusian fencers. »

On March 16, his German counterpart took a similar step, just six days after the International Fencing Federation (FIE) voted to reinstate athletes from both countries, as the qualifying period for the 2024 Paris Olympics begins. April 3. Ukraine has made it known that it will boycott competitions involving Russians and Belarusians. More than three hundred fencers had asked the IOC on Tuesday to back down. So unsuccessful.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Fencing wipes the plaster of the reintegration of Russian and Belarusian athletes

Apart from the FIE, to date, only the international athletics federation has officially pronounced on this dossier. World Athletics had reaffirmed on March 23 the maintenance of the exclusion of Russians and Belarusians in its events.

The World with AFP

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