Russia and Belarus face ban from Paris Olympics, warns senior IOC member

Russia is facing a ban from the Paris Olympics as a consequence of the invasion of Ukraine, Sir Craig Reedie has warned.

Reedie, an influential International Olympic Committee figure for nearly 30 years, believes there is little chance of Russia and Belarus being allowed back soon into international sport

Reedie says most Russian and Belarusian athletes and teams now face a second problem – being unable to compete in those events where qualifying places are on offer for the 2024 Games.

Reedie, who headed the World Anti-Doping Agency when it investigated Russian doping, said the issue of Russia’s participation in Paris was now the “$64,000 question”.

He added: “I’m afraid a decision is going to have to be taken on what happens to each of these two countries. And my guess is that the general feeling would be that they should not qualify.”

“I think most people are struggling with how we could achieve some degree of representation. At the moment, there is no clear way to do it. Therefore, you maintain the status quo.”

That was set by the IOC in February when it recommended Russian and Belarusian athletes should be prevented from competing in international events “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants”.

Reedie said that more than four months on, that view was still widely shared. The rare exceptions have been cycling, judo and tennis, which have allowed Russians to compete internationally as individuals, although Wimbledon instituted a ban.

“However, the problem now comes that roughly two years before the Games, the qualifying period starts as set by the international federations and the IOC,” he said. “So there’s a real issue for the federations, who have a clear instruction which they’ve agreed to that they won’t invite Russians and Belarusians to take part in events.

“Therefore, on the face of it, it’s unlikely that anybody would qualify other than in those three sports which don’t do it that way. And will they be able to qualify [from those three sports]? I’m not sure.”

Reedie, whose autobiography, Delivering London’s Olympic Dream: A Long Life in Sport – Highlights and Crises, was published last week, said it would be hard for Russians to enter qualifying competitions after they begin. “It’s quite difficult halfway through to say ‘all of you who have now qualified, we’ve changed the rules’.”