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Paris 2024 Olympics: Should Russian Athletes Compete?

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

In view of the Russian invasion of and war in Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is facing the vexed question and dilemma of whether to allow Russian athletes to take part in the Summer Olympic Games to be held in Paris next year.

To ban them would amount to discrimination, which, in any form, is contrary to the Olympic Charter, which provides in its section on the ‘Fundamental Principles of Olympism’ as follows:

The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms …. shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Furthermore, such a ban would also be a breach of the athletes’ human rights under the Charter, which provides that:

The practice of sport is a human right.”

And adds that:

Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” 

It is clear, therefore, that such a ban would amount not only to discrimination but also constitute a breach of the Russian athletes’ human rights.

Needless to say, Ukraine has called for a boycott of the Paris Olympic Games and it is reported that more than 30 other countries are also threatening a boycott.

These countries include France and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has stated that:

It is inconceivable to have Russian athletes marching as a delegation while bombs are still raining down on Ukraine.”

The IOC has stated that any boycott would violate the Olympic Charter, has called upon Ukraine to drop its threat of a boycott and has also offered a compromise proposal, namely, participation by individual Russian neutral athletes, without any Russian delegation or Russian flags at the Games.

The same compromise has also been offered by the IOC for the participation of Belarussian athletes at the Games.

The organisers of the Paris Games have stated that they will comply with the decision of the IOC.

Watch this space!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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