Russian and Belarusian Athletes May Be Allowed at 2024 Olympics; Ukraine Threatens Boycott

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Paris, the 2024 Summer Olympics host city
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The International Olympics Committee (IOC) released a statement on Jan. 25, 2023, expressing solidarity with Ukraine, while outlining a path to competition in the Summer 2024 Olympics for Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Russia was sanctioned for doping, however the war in Ukraine complicated the matter. Olympic officials sanctioned both Russia and Belarus after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Belarus was used by the Russian military to stage the invasion.

The statement is organized in three parts. First, the existing sanctions on the governments of Russia and Belarus were unanimously upheld and extended: no international sports events, including the Olympics, may be organized by or held in either country; no identifying flag, anthem, etc. may be displayed at any sporting event in any country; and no government official for either country may be invoiced to any international sporting event or meeting.

Next, the IOC expressed “solidarity with Ukrainian athletes and the Ukrainian Olympic community.” The organization, with unanimous support, encouraged “all possible efforts to facilitate the training, preparation and participation of Ukrainian athletes in international sports events.”

Finally, the IOC stated, “No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport.” Russian and Belarusian athletes will be able compete under a neutral flag as long as they have not violated the doping code and “not acted against the peace mission of the IOC by actively supporting the war in Ukraine.” 

In response, Vadym Gutzeit, Ukrainian Youth and Sports Minister, himself a sabre team (fencing) Olympic champion in 1992, posted on Facebook on Jan. 26, 2023, “Our position is unchanged: as long as there is a war in Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be in international competitions!!!” He continued, “Work is currently underway on further possible steps and first steps to continue sanctions and prevent Russians and Belarusians from international competitions. If we are not heard, I do not rule out the possibility that we will boycott and refuse participation in the Olympics.”

Discussion Questions

1. Should athletes be allowed to compete in Olympics games if their home countries are at war? Explain your answer.

2. How long should countries be banned from participating in international sporting events for doping? Explain your answer(s).

3. Should Russian and Belarusian athletes specifically be allowed to compete in the Summer 2024 Olympics? Consider both the doping scandal and the war. Should Ukraine boycott the 2024 Olympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete under a neutral flag? Explain your answer(s).


David Close, “IOC Clears Path for Russian and Belarusian Athletes to Participate in Upcoming Olympic Games,”, Jan. 25, 2023

Vadym Gutzeit,, Jan. 26, 2023

International Olympics Committee, “Statement on Solidarity with Ukraine, Sanctions against Russia and Belarus, and the Status of Athletes from These Countries,”, Jan. 25, 2023

Reuters, “Now Is Not the Time to Lift Russia, Belarus Sanctions-IOC,”, Dec. 5, 2022

Reuters, “Ukraine Could Boycott Olympics If Russians Allowed Back, Says Sports Minister,”, Jan. 27, 2023