— Published 31 January 2023

Asia prepares for Russian return

There is no doubt about it: Asia will serve as a test zone for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions. The continent is actively preparing for this. According to the acting president of the Association of Asian Olympic Committees (OCA), Randhir Singh, a process is already underway to enable athletes from both countries to qualify for the Paris 2024 Games at the next Asian Games, scheduled for 23 September to 8 October 2023 in Hangzhou, China. The Indian leader told the Indian Express newspaper that the OCA was currently working with international federations to come up with a system that could ensure quotas for Russians and Belarus, but without depriving Asian athletes of medals or places at the upcoming Summer Games. They will not interfere with our system of Asian medals or quotas for the Olympics,” said Randhir Singh. There will be separate medals” for Russian and Belarusian athletes. According to the acting OCA president, competitors from both countries would not necessarily be invited in all Olympic sports on the 2023 Asian Games programme. In combat sports, for example, such as wrestling and judo, their presence in a draw could distort the race for Olympic quotas, as an Asian competitor could lose all chances of qualifying for the Games if he or she were to lose early to a Russian or Belarusian opponent. On the other hand, athletes from the two countries at war with Ukraine could be admitted in disciplines where Olympic qualification is decided by performance, such as athletics and shooting.