— Published 31 March 2023

Thomas Bach tackles Western governments


Thomas Bach raised his voice on Thursday 30 March, on the third and final day of the IOC Executive Board meeting. He attacked the governments of countries, mainly in the West, that openly oppose the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competitions. The German leader condemned this political interference in Olympic affairs without holding back his words. “It is deplorable that these governments do not want to respect the majority in the Olympic movement, nor the autonomy of sport,” he told a press conference. “It is deplorable that these governments are not dealing with the issue of double standards. We have not seen a single comment on their attitude towards the participation of athletes from countries in the other 70 wars and armed conflicts around the world“. According to the IOC President, the repeated stances of the Western political authorities, especially in Germany and Great Britain, are very badly perceived by the entire Olympic movement. Thomas Bach insisted that the National Olympic Committees, the International Federations and the athletes’ representatives were currently “very worried about the politicisation of sport“. But cautious Thomas Bach did not give any hint as to when the IOC would decide on a Russian and Belarusian presence at the Paris 2024 Games. “It will come at the right time,” he repeated. Barring an unlikely scenario, not before the official invitations are sent out at the end of July, one year before the opening.