White House: Russian athletes should compete under neutral flag in Paris Olympics

FILE – In this Dec. 1, 2020, file photo, the Olympic rings are reinstalled after it was taken down for maintenance ahead of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the Odaiba section in Tokyo. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is encouraging individual sports to consider “category qualifiers” — classified in some sports as “open” categories — to ensure transgender athletes will have events to participate in once they reach puberty. The USOPC finalized its two-page “position paper” at its board meeting earlier this month and released it Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, addressing a proposed path forward for transgender participation in sports. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

The White House on Thursday supported having Russian athletes compete in the upcoming Olympic Games under a neutral flag, aligning with Olympic officials’ latest policy.

The White House also supported not allowing the Russian or Belarusian flag at the Olympics, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. 

“In cases where sports organizations and event organizers, such as the International Olympics Committee, choose to permit athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in sporting events, they should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarus states,” Jean-Pierre said.

She added that “the use of official state Russia and Belarus flags … should be prohibited as well.” 

Her response came after she said on Wednesday that she would need to talk to her colleagues at the National Security Council when asked if the Biden administration thinks that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be able to compete in the Olympics at all due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The Summer Olympics will be hosted in Paris in July 2024. The board of the International Olympic Committee announced last week that no flags, anthem, colors or other identifications of Russia or Belarus can be displayed at the events or in the venue. 

It said that that no athletes should be prevented from competing because of their passport and that athletes can participate in competitions as neutral athletes. It also said no Russian and Belarusian official should be invited to or accredited for events.

The debate over Russia and Belarus athletes comes as the war in Ukraine approaches the one year mark since the Russian invasion began. The Olympic committee unequivocally said in its announcement last week that it is in solidarity with Ukrainian athletes.

Tags 2024 Summer Olympics Karine Jean-Pierre Karine Jean-Pierre Russia-Ukraine war Russian athletes

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