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At least 9 of 33 'neutral' Russian athletes allowed to participate in Olympics visited occupied Crimea, allegedly support war, media writes

by Nate Ostiller July 4, 2024 12:31 PM 2 min read
A Ukrainian activist attends a rally against Russian and Belarusian participation in the Paris 2024 Olympic games in Tbilisi on March 26, 2023. (Vano Shlamov/AFP via Getty Images)
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At least nine of the 33 ostensibly neutral Russian athletes allowed to participate in the upcoming Paris Olympic Games visited occupied Crimea, took part in propaganda tournaments, or allegedly support Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine, according to an investigation released by the Babel media outlet on July 3.

An investigation of the social media activity of another five athletes indicated that they also support the war, Babel said.

The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled in December 2023 that Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete as Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN) with "strict eligibility conditions."

Under the rules, Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be able to participate as teams nor display any flags or any official identification with either country. Athletes or support personnel who have openly supported the war will not be allowed, nor will anyone who has served or is affiliated with either the military or security organizations of Russia or Belarus.

The nine athletes in question publicly acknowledged visiting occupied Crimea or taking part in tournaments that promote Russia's full-scale war. One athlete, the wrestler Nachyn Mongush, reportedly served in the Russian army previously, in direct violation of the rules laid out by the IOC.

Russia was officially banned from competing in the Olympics for four years in 2019 due to systematic doping practices, but it still participated in 2020 and 2022 under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

The ROC was suspended in October 2023 for declaring authority over the athletic organizations of Russian-occupied Ukraine.

Ukraine has called for barring Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paris games altogether, even under a neutral banner.

Russia accuses Olympic Committee of ‘racism and neo-Nazism’ over opening ceremony decision
The Kremlin has accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of “racism and neo-Nazism” over its decision to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics this summer.
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