The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has been suspended with immediate effect for recognising regional sport organisations from four territories annexed from Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.
The IOC added on Thursday that the ROC would not be eligible for any funding after it recognised Olympic Councils from the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, but that it would not affect any Russian athletes competing as neutrals.
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“The unilateral decision taken by the Russian Olympic Committee on 5 October 2023 to include, as its members, the regional sports organisations which are under the authority of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ukraine (namely Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia) constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter,” the IOC said in a statement.
“It violates the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine, as recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in accordance with the Olympic Charter.”
The IOC executive board is meeting in Mumbai, India ahead of the IOC session from October 15-17.
Thursday’s ruling does not affect any decision on Russian and Belarusian athletes’ participation at the Paris 2024 Olympics, which the IOC will consider at a later date.
“The suspension of the ROC does not affect the participation of independent athletes,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told a press conference on Thursday.
The Russian Olympic Committee dismissed the decision as counterproductive and politically motivated.
“Today the IOC made another counterproductive decision with obvious political motivations,” the ROC said in a statement.
“This secures de jure what was done de facto back in February 2022,” it added, referring to the ban on Russian athletes issued by most international sports federations in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The IOC initially banned Russia and Belarus from international sports events after Moscow invaded Ukraine that February.
However, in March of this year, the IOC recommended that sports federations allow Russians and Belarusians to return, as neutral athletes in individual events, with no flag, emblem or anthem.
The IOC has said athletes should not be punished for the actions of governments.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies