— Published 19 May 2023

The Russians will have to wait

The list is getting longer. A new international federation of a summer Olympic sport has announced its decision to reinstate Russian and Belarusian athletes in the near future. Meeting this week in Turkey, the executive committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) chose to join the camp of the authorities that followed the recommendation of the IOC executive board. Its president, the Japanese Morinari Watanabe, explained this himself in a statement, going so far as to speak in the first person to explain the FIG’s position: “I would like to follow the IOC’s recommendations and accept such ‘individual neutral athletes’ who are not involved in or supporting the war at international gymnastics events, he explained. However, as the IOC has emphasized, neutrality towards the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus is a strict and essential requirement for any participation in international competitions. At this point, I believe that the definition of ‘neutrality’ needs to be clarified by a specialized independent body, which should also be responsible for the verification of this neutrality.” The message is clear: the Russian and Belarusian gymnasts are no longer officially suspended, but they will have to be patient before returning to the international scene. In its press release, the FIG specifies that the “extraordinary measures” adopted last year by its Executive Committee remain valid. The requirement of “neutrality” for Russian and Belarusian athletes will be discussed at the next Executive Committee meeting, scheduled for July.