International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reportedly mulling lifting its ban on Russian athletes which came into effect following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The IOC had directed relevant sports governing bodies in February to remove Russian and Belarusian athletes from the competitions which included Russia being removed from this year’s FIFA World Cup as well.
The athletes from the two counties were only allowed to participate in individual sports like tennis or motorsports but only under neutral flags.
But IOC seems to have softened its once staunch stand in recent months concerning its ban on Russian athletes after realizing that they are not responsible for the actions of their country.
Susanne Lyons, the chair of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, was the first person to break her silence on the matter, indicating that a “pathway” programme could be in the offing to reintroduce athletes from the two countries into sporting circles.
“We know that the IOC is beginning to think about whether there’s a pathway back for the Russian athletes,” said Lyons. “They are beginning to reach out to all of their stakeholders to get input on that topic.
“But I think all of us feel at some point in time individual athletes should not be the victims of whatever their government politics or other tensions there are around the world.
“I think inevitably there will be a desire to see athletes that happen to reside in Russia come back and be part of competition but the timing and what that looks like is to be determined.”
Despite their best efforts, it remains to be seen how the sports personnel from Russia and Belarus will be welcomed back by their peers if it all things work out.