Susanne Lyons, the president of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said Monday that she was not opposed to the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to competition for the Paris Olympics.
In the various Olympic sports, the qualification process for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has already started or will soon. But for now, Russian and Belarusian athletes are banned from participating, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February. While the spokesman for the International Olympic Committee had indicated last week that their reinstatement was not on the agenda, the door may have opened on Monday on the occasion of the Olympic summit in Lausanne, which brought together IOC members and presidents of international federations. At least that’s what Susanne Lyons, the president of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, whose voice necessarily carries more than other countries’, has indicated.
“Our mission remains to bring the whole world together around sports in a peaceful way”
“We have not agreed that the athletes will return. We agreed that there would now be exploration and consultation with stakeholders to see if there could be a way for these individual athletes to return under the guise of neutrality. There is a real desire for this to happen because our mission remains to bring the whole world together around sports in a peaceful way. The Olympic movement can hardly tolerate these athletes being barred from competing,” the leader said. Assuming, of course, that these athletes did not support the war, which is quite difficult to prove, however. “I really don’t know how it will be possible to know whether an athlete supports the actions of his government or not. It even seems almost impossible to me. But at least we have reached an agreement on our common will to allow athletes who have not actively supported the conflict“, the president explained. Susanne Lyons also clarified that if the Russians and Belarusians participated in the next competitions, it would be without their flag or the name of their country. There is therefore no question of a “Russian Olympic Committee”, which during the summer Olympics in 2021 and Winter 2022, where Russia was suspended, not because of the war, but because of state doping.