On 3 April the European People’s Party (EPP) published a statement condemning the IOC’s recommendations to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete in international sports competitions as neutral athletes if they comply with a set of conditions including not being affiliated to the army or actively supportive of the war against Ukraine. EPP calls for a ban of Russian and Belarussian athletes for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
The EPP stated that “more than half of the medals that Russia took home at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were awarded to Russian athletes whose background is linked to the Central Sports Club of the Army” and were consequently linked to the crimes committed by the Russian Army in Ukraine. Furthermore, the EPP argues that it would be “usual for dictators and authoritarian regimes to weaponize sports to expand their influence”, as has already been done with Russia’s state-sponsored doping-programme.
The statement concludes by calling the IOC out on failure of compliance with shared values by “turning a blind eye to tens of thousands of Ukrainian casualties, many of them innocent civilians”. With regard to European leaders, it is stated that a “huge majority of European lawmakers qualified Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and called for its international isolation” and therefore the EPP calls “upon European Leaders to support excluding Russian and Belarussian athletes from all international athletic competitions”.