The U.S. supports blocking Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Olympics unless it is “absolutely clear” that they are not representing their respective countries, the White House announced on Thursday.
As Russia continues to wage its almost yearlong war in Ukraine, a handful of Ukrainian allies have called on the International Olympic Committee to ban all Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stopped short of backing an outright ban on athletes coming from Russia and Belarus. But she said the U.S. supported “suspending Russia and Belarus’ sport national governing bodies from International Sports Federations; removing individuals closely aligned to the Russian and Belarusian states, including government officials from positions of influence and international sports federations, such as boards and organizing committees; [and] encouraging national and international sports organizations to suspend broadcasting of sports competition into Russia and Belarus.”
Should the International Olympic Committee allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate, the use of official Russian or Belarusian flags, emblems or anthems should be prohibited, Jean-Pierre said during her Thursday press briefing.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the International Olympic Committee to ban the two countries’ athletes from competing in the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. But last week, the IOC released a statement saying, “No athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport,” and proposing that participants from Russia and Belarus could compete as “neutral athletes.”