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Thomas Bach- IOC not on wrong side of history

Olympic chief Thomas Bach says the International Olympic Committee is not on the wrong side of history following criticism over the potential inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Games.

The International Olympic Council is “exploring a pathway” for athletes from the two nations to compete as neutrals.

This move has been widely criticised amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Bach said “History will show who is doing more for peace”.

The UK hosted a summit of 36 nations on Friday to discuss the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the next Olympics in Paris.

However Bach, speaking at the World Ski Championships on Sunday, said allowing governments to decide who participates would “be the end of international sport competitions and Olympic Games as we know it”.

When asked if the organisation could be on the wrong side of history, Bach said: “No. We are trying to find a solution that is giving justice to the mission of sport, which is to unify, not to contribute to more confrontation.

“Every Ukrainian athlete can be rest assured that we are standing in full solidarity with them and that all their comments are taken very, very seriously into consideration.

“With every Ukrainian athlete, we can, from a human point of view, understand their reactions, we share their suffering.

“But with regard to participation of athletes we have to accomplish our peace mission and that is a unifying mission of bringing people together.”

Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Games if Russian and Belarusian athletes compete is a stance that has been backed by several other countries.

Bach had previously said the boycott threats were “extremely regrettable”.

Meanwhile Russian sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, at the weekend said, calls to ban their athletes from the Olympics were unacceptable.

“Now we see an undisguised desire to destroy the unity of international sports and the international Olympic movement, to make sport a means of pressure to resolve political issues,” Matytsin told Russian news agency Tass.

Bach added that “Our mission is a peace mission as history will show who is doing more for peace, the ones who try to keep lines open and communicate or the ones who want to isolate and divide.”

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas