The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, on Thursday banned the Russian Olympic Committee after the ROC recognized regional organizations from four annexed Ukrainian territories. The ban takes effect immediately.
On Oct. 5, the ROC recognized the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which are under the authority of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine. This move constituted a breach in the Olympic Charter, according to the IOC.
Ukraine and the West denounced Russia’s referendums in the four regions in 2022 as a sham and decried the annexation as illegal.
The ROC will be suspended until further notice, meaning that they will not receive any funding as “they will no longer be able to operate as an Olympic Committee,” according to an IOC statement.
Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the IOC banned from international competition athletes from Russia as well as Belarus.
However, as of March 2023, the IOC has held the position that Russian and Belarusian athletes would be allowed to compete in international events — with no flag, emblem or anthem — stating that athletes should not be punished for the actions of their governments.
The IOC’s decision on Thursday to suspend the ROC does not change their position on Russian or Belarusian athletes.
“The suspension of the ROC does not affect the participation of independent athletes,” IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said at a news conference.
Ukraine supported today’s IOC ruling. The head of Ukraine’s Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, called the move “an important decision,” via the Telegram messaging app.
“We communicate with our partners that sports cannot be out of politics when a terrorist country commits genocide of Ukraine and uses athletes as propaganda,” Yermak said.
The Russian Olympic Committee condemned the action taken by the IOC, claiming the suspension to be politically charged.
“Today the IOC made another counterproductive decision with obvious political motivations,” the ROC said in a statement.
Some information in this report came from Reuters.