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African Olympic body supports Russian, Belarusian participation as neutrals

AFRICAN Olympic committees passed a resolution supporting the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Paris 2024 summer Olympics as neutrals.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) set out a path in January for Russian and Belarusian athletes to earn Olympic places through Asian qualifying events and to compete as neutrals, with no flags or anthems.

Athletes from those countries were banned from many international competitions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but some international federations are now allowing them back following the IOC’s guidance.

The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) passed its resolution following a meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania, with the body’s president Mustapha Berraf saying it “aligns with the position of the IOC”.

“The members came out unanimously in favour of the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in all international competitions,” ANOCA said in a statement.

“It will thus be a question of allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in complete neutrality without any sign of identity in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“… politics cannot put pressure on sport and withdraw from it all its nobility values ​​which revolve around peace, unity and solidarity… The athletes must in no case pay the heavy price of a conflict whatever it is and wherever it is.”

Ukraine and its Eastern European and Baltic neighbours are leading the call for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned from Paris 2024 as long as Russia’s troops maintain their invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”. Belarus has been a key staging area for the invasion.

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In February, more than 30 countries including the United States, Britain and France pledged their support for banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competitions.

Ukraine has also threatened to boycott the Olympics over Russia’s participation.

By The African Mirror