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Moscow Condemns ‘Discriminatory’ Criteria of Return Of Russian Athletes to Olympics

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Moscow says forcing Russians to compete under a neutral flag would amount to "discrimination."

The International Olympic Committee has agreed that athletes from Russia and Belarus will participate only as individuals at next years Paris Olympics.

“Athletes with a Russian or a Belarusian passport must compete only as Individual Neutral Athletes,” IOC president Thomas Bach said the body’s Executive Board had recommended to international federations and international sports event organizers.

However, Moscow said forcing Russians to compete under a neutral flag would amount to “discrimination.”

“The announced criteria for the return to international competitions are unacceptable. This is discrimination on the basis of nationality,” Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, said.

Among other IOC recommendations — which Bach said were agreed unanimously — the IOC said “teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport cannot be considered.”

Also missing out will be “athletes who actively support the war” as well as “athletes who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies.”

Additionally, “no flag, anthem, colors or any other identifications whatsoever of these countries displayed at any sports event or meeting, including the entire venue” and “no Russian and Belarusian government or state official can be invited to or accredited for any international sports event or meeting.”

German Sports Minister Nancy Faeser reacted immediately, calling the recommendation a “slap in the face” for Ukrainian athletes, who she said “deserve the solidarity of international sport.”

“International sport must condemn Russia’s brutal war of aggression in no uncertain terms. This can only be done with the complete exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes.”

Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk said it was a “day of shame for the IOC” after the “daily bombings of civilian sites.”

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