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Olympic restrictions ‘humiliating’ for Russians – EU state

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The Hungarian foreign minister has spoken out against the IOC’s politicization of the event

The conditions set out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for Russian athletes to take part in the 2024 Paris Games are humiliating and ideological in nature, according to Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

The minister has urged Olympic officials to avoid mixing sports with geopolitics, insisting that athletes should not be banned for political reasons.

“When they even begin to propose banning athletes from any particular country from participating in the Olympics, then I think we have major problems,” Szijjarto said on Friday at the Sport Science and Innovations conference, adding that this approach gives unlimited space to “double standards in the world of sports.”

Forcing athletes to perform under neutral status, wear certain clothes, and stand for an anthem that is not their own if they win is humiliating and discriminatory, according to the foreign minister, who added that he rejects the notion of collective guilt. He stressed that denying access to the Olympics for political reasons is “beyond all limits.”

After the start of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, the IOC recommended that athletes from Russia and close ally Belarus not be allowed to compete in international events. In December last year, the body ruled that a limited number of people from the two countries could take part in the Olympics as ‘individual neutral athletes’.

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In March, the IOC announced that the maximum number of Russians who can qualify for the Paris Games is 55, while Belarus is limited to 28 athletes. However, according to IOC director James Macleod, the teams are unlikely to meet the quotas, with 36 Russian and 22 Belarusian athletes expected to make it to the Games.

The international body has also introduced a range of restrictions for qualifying. Russian athletes who have publicly supported Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine or are somehow linked to state security agencies or the military are banned from the Games.

While athletes are not required to explicitly condemn the military operation, all athletes must sign the ‘Conditions of Participation for Paris’, which oblige them to respect the Olympic Charter, including “the peace mission of the Olympic Movement.”

Moscow has harshly criticized the restrictions and has suggested that the IOC is effectively destroying the Olympic spirit and the very purpose of the Games. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov previously said the committee’s restrictions are “absolutely contrary to the entire ideology of the Olympic movement.”

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