Five hundred Russian athletes and as many Belarusian athletes could participate (in twelve sports) in the Asian Games, which will take place from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou (eastern China). The announcement was made by Husain Al-Musallam, Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), on July 8 during the OCA General Assembly in Bangkok, Thailand.
This participation, which would be the first of Russian and Belarusian athletes in an international multi-sport competition, would only take place on several conditions: these athletes would have to line up individually, under a neutral flag and without being able to claim medals. The Asian Games could nevertheless offer a possibility of winning Olympic quotas. Moreover, no Russian or Belarusian politician would be invited.
At the end of March, the IOC had recommended to the international sports federations to reintegrate the Russians and the Belarusians under neutral banner, provided that they did not support the war in Ukraine. A dozen federations have already done so. Including judo, on the occasion of the last world championships, in Qatar, or even fencing, which chose to organize the individual European championships in Bulgaria rather than in Poland, within the framework of the European Games, in order to be able to welcome Russians and Belarusians.
But the decision regarding the Paris 2024 Olympics has yet to be made. On June 21, the executive committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) preferred to postpone any communication on this subject. “There is still a long time for this decision to be made”argued the organization, while adding that it could not “give schedule” more precise.
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As far as the Asian Games are concerned, there too the final decision remains to be made. It will be done jointly by the OCA, the IOC, the organizing committee of the Asian Games and the international and Asian sports federations.
In the meantime, the Russian side has cautiously and very skeptically received the statements of the OCA. “Over the past few months we have heard a lot of speculation about the possibility of participating in various international tournaments. In most cases, words have remained words., reacted the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov. He assured not to have “not yet received an invitation”.