The International Olympic Committee’s executive board has recommended sports federations to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from competing in events following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The IOC said the executive board made the decision “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants” and that the body was acting with a “heavy heart.”
The Russian Olympic Committee categorically disagreed with the IOC, saying the decision “contradicts both the regulatory documents of the IOC and the (Olympic) Charter”.
“As a first step, we consider it necessary to send requests to international federations for an official response on the status of Russian athletes and their rights to participate in international competitions due to the fact that it is the … federations that have the authority to admit athletes to international competitions in the respective sport,” the ROC said in a statement.
“For its part, the Russian Olympic Committee intends to consistently uphold the rights and interests of Russian athletes and provide all necessary assistance to our national federations to challenge discriminatory decisions of the relevant international federations.”
The statement from IOC comes shortly before the Winter Paralympics starts in Beijing on Friday. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will meet on Wednesday to discuss Russia ahead of the Games.
Following IOC’s statement, soccer governing bodies FIFA and UEFA also suspended Russia’s national and club teams from all competitions until further notice.
Sports bodies across the world have already moved against Russia by refusing to host or play against teams from the country.
Olympic Order Withdrawn From Putin
The IOC reiterated its recommendation not to organize any sports event in Russia or Belarus.
The IOC also said it had taken the ad hoc decision to withdraw the Olympic Order from all persons who currently have an important function in the government of the Russian Federation, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Olympic Order is the highest award granted by the Olympic movement and Putin was the recipient of a gold honor in 2001.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko and Dmitry Kozak, deputy chief of staff of the presidential executive office, have also been stripped of their titles.
The IOC said it made the decision based on “the exceptional circumstances of the situation and considering the extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce and other violations of the Olympic Charter by the Russian government in the past”.
Ukraine’s health ministry said on Sunday that 352 civilians, including 14 children, had been killed since Russia’s invasion of the country last week. Belarus has been a key staging area for the invasion.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.