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IOC chief Bach slams sport’s ‘politicisation’ over Russia

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach on Thursday said it was “deplorable” that several European countries had criticised a move to readmit Russian and Belarusian athletes to world sporting competition.

“It is deplorable to see that some governments do not want to respect the majority within the Olympic movement, nor the autonomy of sport,” Bach told reporters, following a three-day meeting of the IOC’s executive board.

The executive board on Tuesday recommended the return to competition of Russian and Belarusian athletes as individual neutrals.

However, they refused to give a timeline on the decision on potential participation of athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus at next year’s Paris Olympics.

They have been largely banned since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Bach on Tuesday had urged the firm rejection of political interference in the ability of sporting organisations to decide the participation in their events.

But Bach stepped up the tone on Thursday after criticism by several governments, including German Sports Minister Nancy Faeser who called the IOC recommendation a “slap in the face” for Ukrainian athletes.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also said the decision was “an outrage and a betrayal of the true spirit of sport”.

“It is deplorable these governments do not address the question of double standards,” Bach fumed.

The German, who won Olympic fencing team gold in 1976, said the various levels of the Olympic movement were “very concerned with this politicisation of sport”.

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