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German sports minister wants close IOC scrutiny of Russian athletes

German sports minister Nancy Faeser called Saturday on the International Olympic Committee to “examine very precisely” the backgrounds of Russian athletes and to exclude those who supported the war on Ukraine from the 2024 Olympics. 

On Friday, the IOC, headed by Thomas Bach, a German, gave the green light for Russians and Belarusians to compete at next year’s Paris Games as neutrals, outside of team events and as long as they did not actively support the war against Ukraine. 

“The warmonger Putin must not be allowed to use the Olympic Games in Paris for his propaganda under any circumstances,” said Faeser, who is also Interior Minister, in a press release.

“That the Russian teams remain excluded and that flags and symbols are banned is the bare minimum we can expect from the IOC.”  

In March, the IOC had recommended that international federations reinstate Russian and Belarusian sportsmen and women as individuals, under a neutral banner, provided they had not supported the war, unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and that they were not under contract with either the army or  national security agencies.

“It is now up to the International Olympic Committee and the international federations to examine very precisely whether individual Russian and Belarussian sportsmen and women should be excluded if they have in any way supported the Russian war of aggression, or if they have any connection whatsoever with the Russian government or the Russian army,” said Faeser. 

According to the IOC, 11 athletes — eight Russians and three Belarusians — have so far qualified by meeting the neutrality criteria, deemed “discriminatory” by Moscow.

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