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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Screen grab from White House YouTube Channel)
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Screen grab from White House YouTube Channel)

US not opposed to Russia, Belarus athletes competing as individuals in Olympics: White House

ANI | Updated: Feb 03, 2023 04:45 IST

Washington [US], February 3 (ANI): The United States does not object to the athletes from Russia and Belarus taking part in the 2024 Summer Games and 2026 Winter Games as long as they are absolutely sure that they are not representing their home countries.  


Addressing a presser, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday (Local Time), "The United States has supported suspending Russia and Belarus' sports national governing bodies from International Sports Federation, removing individuals closely aligned to the Russian and Belarusian states, including government officials from positions of influence in international sports federations such as boards and organizing committees, encouraging national and international sports organizations to suspend and broadcasting of sports competition into Russia and Belarus." 


"In cases where sports organizations and event organizers, such as the International Olympic Committee, choose to permit athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in supporting events, it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states," Jean-Pierre added. 


This statement comes after the International Olympic Committee outlined a multi-step plan for Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in the upcoming games as neutrals, which has drawn public outcry from Ukraine, according to CNN.   


“No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” the IOC’s executive board declared at the time. 


The IOC this week said it would stand by sanctions imposed on both countries following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has decried what it called "defamatory" statements. 


Ukrainian government officials and star athletes like Ukrainian tennis star and Olympic bronze medalist Elina Svitolina have called for Russian athletes to be banned from qualifying for the upcoming games, as per the CNN. 


“With this in mind, we must stick to banning Russian and Belarusian athletes, sending a strong message worldwide, that we are united in the sanctions imposed against Russia and Belarus and that there are consequences for the heinous acts of their governments; their lives cannot continue as normal and the world, nor the Russian or Belarusian people can be ignorant of the atrocities they are committing in Ukraine,” Svitolina said on Wednesday. 


Before the IOC's statement, the United Nations experts Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and Ashwini KP Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, asked the world Olympic body to also ensure the non-discrimination of any athlete based on their nationality and emphasised that no athlete should be required to take sides in the conflict, according to the statement released by UN. 


“We understand the desire to support Ukrainian athletes and the Ukrainian Olympic community, who suffer terribly from the war, together with all other Ukrainians, but the Olympic Committee and more widely the Olympic community have also the compelling obligation to abide by the Olympic Charter, and more widely international human rights norms prohibiting discrimination,”  an UN expert said. (ANI)