Olympics: IOC has no plans to lift bans on Russian, Belarusian athletes as qualifying for Paris 2024 approaches

The Olympic flag.
The Olympic flag. Photo credit: Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has no immediate plans to lift sanctions on Russia and Belarus, even though the qualifying process for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics goes into full swing next year.

The IOC issued guidance to sports' governing bodies in February to remove from competition athletes from Russia and Belarus, which Moscow used as a key staging area for the February invasion of Ukraine that it called a "special operation".

Speaking on the first day of the IOC's executive board meeting, spokesman Mark Adams has said there had been no change to the sanctions put in place at the start of the war in Ukraine, despite the Paris Games starting in just over a year and a half.

"Now is not the time to be lifting sanctions on the Russians or the Belarusians," Adams said. "The sanctions remain very much in place."

While Olympic qualification events in some sports have already been held, most will stage their continental or global qualification events in the coming 18 months.

A total of 32 sports are on the programme for the 2024 Olympic, with more than 10,000 athletes expected to qualify.

"In the end, it is a little bit of speculation... but there are many factors at the moment," Adams said. "We are still some way away from the Games, but admittedly, qualification is soon to begin.

"We have to see how things go. It is a rapidly changing - often a daily changing - situation there.

"The sanctions remain in place for the time being. I would not want to comment on the state of qualification of athletes for Paris."

While the IOC's position may change in the future, some federations insist the only way to reinstate Russia and Belarus in their sport would be the removal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

"This is fairly simple - get out of Ukraine," said World Athletics president Sebastian Coe last week.