‘Deplorable’: Olympics boss slams effort to ban Russia from Paris 2024

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach went on the attack Thursday, blasting European governments over their effort to have Russia and Belarus excluded from the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It cannot be up to the governments to decide which athletes can participate in which competition,” Bach said in blunt remarks at a press conference Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“This would be the end of world sport as we know it today,” he added.

Bach called European governments “deplorable” for demanding Russians be banned from international competitions and hit out at their “double standards.”

“We have not seen a single comment about their attitudes toward the participation of athletes whose countries are involved in the other 70 wars and armed conflicts in the world,” he said.

Bach added that because neither Ukraine nor Russia were happy with the IOC’s recommendations on Russian and Belarusian athletes it could indicate the governing body had actually managed to find a satisfactory “middle ground.”

On Tuesday, the organization issued recommendations for Russian and Belarusian athletes to gradually return to international competitions as neutral participants, with Bach saying their participation “works” despite Moscow’s ongoing war on Ukraine. The IOC made an exception for athletes contracted to the Russian or Belarusian militaries and security services, who cannot be entered in international competitions.

The recommendations do not apply to the 2024 Paris Olympics, on which a separate decision will be taken at a later date.