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Olympic Committee Chief Warns Federations Not To Give In To Governments On Athlete Bans.

Russia's Daniil Medvedev competes in the men's singles second round match at Wimbledon in July 2021. This year the British government has ruled that no players from Russia or Belarus may take part.

Russia's Daniil Medvedev competes in the men's singles second round match at Wimbledon in July 2021. This year the British government has ruled that no players from Russia or Belarus may take part.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach says sports federations must not give in to the politics of governments when considering whether to ban athletes based on their passports.

Speaking in an interview against the backdrop of the banning of Russian and Belarusian athletes by most sports federations over Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Bach said federations "need the respect of the governments" to be able to properly administer their sports.

In particular, he pointed to tennis, where the French government allowed Russian and Belarusian players to participate in the recent French Open as neutral competitors, while the British government has already ruled that no players from the two countries may take part in Wimbledon when it starts later this month.

"How can you guarantee then, in your sport a fair international competition, if the governments are deciding according to their own political interests, who can take part in a competition and who cannot take part?" Bach argued in an interview published on the InsideTheGames Olympics website.

"Then, if you open this gate, today, it is Russia and Belarus, tomorrow it is your country, there is no country in the world which is loved by every other government," he added.

"This is against all the principles we are standing for, if we leave this to the Governments then we are becoming a political tool and we cannot guarantee any more, a fair competition, our task is that we have to realize that we have to get back to the day when we can unite the entire world in a peaceful competition, this is not the day, but we can only hope that peace prevails."

Bach said that while those who support the war in Ukraine, launched by Russia four days after the Beijing Winter Olympics ended on February 20, "can and should be sanctioned," the rights of those who do not support the war "must be respected."

"There is no sanction and there should be no sanction for holding a passport," he said.

The IOC has recommended sports federations "not invite or allow" the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, but Bach called that move a protective measure to ensure the safety of all participants.

Bach warned that the postwar world is likely to be more "divisive" and sports must remain above the politics of it all.

"Our task is to keep sport beyond this political trend, with all these divisions and confrontations, it is always important for the entire world to have at least one bridge and to have at least something on which everyone can agree and there the most natural issue is sport because it appreciated by everybody, it can be practised without political interest without any kind of discrimination," he said.

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