German Olympic committee says time not right to readmit Russians

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MUNICH, Germany: Germany’s National Olympic Committee is opposed to letting Russian and Belarusian athletes compete internationally, the body’s chief executive said on its web site on Tuesday.”Now is not the right time to allow athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport to compete in international competitions again,” Torsten Burmester said in an interview conducted just after the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”The acts of war have intensified in recent weeks, especially the attacks on the civilian population.”The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is led by a German, Thomas Bach, has said it is exploring a “pathway” to allow Russian and Belarusian competitors to take part in the Paris Games, under a neutral flag.That sparked fury from Ukraine and questions from many western nations.Burmester said he took part in a conference call with the IOC in January.”In a so-called Consultation Call by the IOC on January 19, a majority of the National Olympic Committees spoke out in favor of examining re-admission,” he said.”In this call, we clearly expressed our position and said that we can only imagine a re-admission — if it is decided — under very strict conditions.”He said allowing Russians to compete under a neutral flag during their country’s recent doping ban had not worked.”True neutrality would have to be guaranteed. No flags, national symbols or colors should really be worn and anthems played. It remains to be seen how something like this could be guaranteed. Scenes like those in Pyeongchang, Tokyo or Beijing must not be allowed in Paris,” he said.He added that there would need to be guarantees from athletes from nations not currently allowed to compete had undergone thorough dope tests.In a letter earlier this month, more than 30 countries, including France, Great Britain, Sweden, Poland, the United States and Canada, expressed concern about how the athletes could be neutral, particularly given the “strong links and affiliations between Russian athletes and the Russian military.””It would have to be ensured that no athletes from Russia or Belarus who actively support the war start,” Burmester saidThe letter asked the IOC for “clarifications” on the neutrality required for Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.The IOC responded that the letter ignored the human rights of Russian and Belarusian athletes.