— Published 20 March 2023

The athletes open the door to Russia and Belarus

After Africa, Asia. Gathered in a forum during the weekend in Bangkok (photo above) at the initiative of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the representatives of the athletes of the continent aligned themselves with the position of the IOC concerning the return of the Russian and Belarusian athletes in the international competitions. The topic was discussed on the first day of the forum, which was held in the presence of Finnish Emma Terho, the president of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. It did not create any division between the 88 athletes present in the Thai capital (46 men and 42 women), from 43 National Olympic Committees. In a press release published in the evening of the first day, Saturday, March 18, the OCA explains that the Asian athletes “fully support the autonomy of the Olympic movement” and its principles of non-discrimination, including political. They are unanimous that athletes “athletes should not be punished for the actions of their Governments.” The message is clear: the OCA athletes’ forum has opened the door to international competitions, including the 2023 Asian Games in China, to Russians and Belarusians. The only conditions for their reinstatement are the absence of government representatives, a neutral status and the respect of anti-doping rules. The OCA press release also stresses the importance of respecting “fairness to Asian athletes in any qualification pathway.” The possible participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Asian Games should therefore not deprive competitors from the continent of quotas for the Paris 2024 Games.