Baku, April 9, AZERTAC
The World Olympians Association (WOA) supports the right of athletes to participate in international tournaments and voices disagreement with the IOC (the International Olympic Committee) recommendations to bar Russia and Belarus, the WOA press office said in a statement on Thursday, according to TASS.
On February 28, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued recommendations to international sports federations to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in international tournaments citing the ongoing situation involving Russia in Ukraine.
"The WOA Executive Committee decided that the fundamental principles of Olympism as outlined in principles 4 and 6 of the Olympic Charter should be always respected and that the right of Olympians and athletes as individuals to participate in sporting events must be upheld and promoted," the statement reads.
"This echoes the "Declaration of Support for the Olympic Charter" signed by Olympians from all five continents at WOA's World Olympians Forum in 2015 in which they pledged "to oppose any political or governmental interference in the autonomy of sports organizations which might prevent an athlete from exercising their right to compete in the Olympic Games or other major sporting events which also embody the Olympic spirit."
"The WOA Executive Committee understands and respects the recommendation of the IOC which stated that "in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC EB recommends that International Sports Federations and sports event organizers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions," the statement continued.
"However, WOA strongly believes that decisions on whether to compete or not should be left to each individual athlete and should be based on the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter," the World Olympians Association added.
Following the IOC recommendations in late February, the majority of global sports federations decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from all international sports tournaments.
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