- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 2, 2023

The White House said Thursday it supports a crackdown on Russian and Belarusian officials’ participation in global sports and that athletes from those countries who compete in the 2024 Summer Games should not be allowed to display their national symbols.

President Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, outlined the U.S. position amid debate about whether Russian and Belarusian athletes should compete in the Paris Olympics, which are 18 months away, because of their countries’ brutality in Ukraine.

If the International Olympic Committee decides to admit athletes from those countries, “it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “The use of official state Russian and Belarusian flags, emblems and anthems should be prohibited as well.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged IOC President Thomas Bach and French President Emmanuel Macron to prohibit Russian athletes from next summer’s games. He said allowing them to participate would indicate that “terror is somehow acceptable.”

But last week, the IOC signaled it would admit the athletes. It argued that no one should be barred from the Olympics “just because of their passport.”

The committee said Russian and Belarusian athletes will be prohibited from using “flag, anthem, colors or any other identifications whatsoever of these countries being displayed at any sports event or meeting, including the entire venue” — a position the White House echoed on Thursday.

“No Russian and Belarusian Government or State official should be invited to or accredited for any international sports event or meeting,” the IOC said.

Likewise, Ms. Jean-Pierre said the U.S. wants to bar Russian and Belarusian sports officials and government from “positions of influence” on sports boards and organizing committees.

The U.S. also pressed national and international sports organizations to suspend any broadcasts of sports competitions into Russia or Belarus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in late February 2022.

Belarus has allowed Russia to use its territory to conduct training and stage part of its invasion of Ukraine. It also admitted to letting Moscow station missile launchers on its soil.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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