Sir Craig Reedie suggested that Russian and Belarusian athletes might not be able to qualify

Russia could be banned from the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris as a punishment for its ongoing military operation in Ukraine, an influential International Olympic Committee (IOC) figure has warned.

Sir Craig Reedie, who was the head of the World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA) when it looked into alleged Russian doping, claimed that the chances of Russian athletes competing in the French capital in 2024 is the “$64,000 question.”

Reedie believes there is little chance that Russia, which has seen a number of federations ban its teams and athletes from competitions based on an IOC recommendation issued in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, will be allowed back into the international fold any time soon, with events that offer qualifying places to Paris 2024 looming on the horizon.

“I’m afraid a decision is going to have to be taken on what happens to each of these two countries,” Reedie said in reference to Russia and Belarus.

“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,” added Reedie, who is an honorary IOC member. 

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The IOC insisted that Russia should be prevented from taking part in international events “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”

IOC president Thomas Bach has also claimed that bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes are partly for their own safety to protect them from supposed aggression they would face at international events. 

Russian sporting officials and prominent athletes have decried the bans and discriminatory and running contrary to Olympic principles.  

Reedie claims that the necessity of a ban on Russia is an opinion which is still widely shared, despite exceptions being made in sports such as boxing, cycling, judo and tennis – though this month, Russians were not allowed to compete at the Wimbledon Grand Slam.

“The problem now comes that roughly two years before the Games, the qualifying period starts as set by the international federations and the IOC,” Reedie noted.

“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.

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

Finally, Reedie noted that it would be difficult for Russians to enter qualifying competitions after they have already begun – even if they were invited back to international sports. 

“It’s quite difficult halfway through to say ‘all of you who have now qualified, we’ve changed the rules’,” he remarked.

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games are scheduled to get underway on July 26 and will conclude on August 11.

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