The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was suspended indefinitely on Thursday after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) found that it violated the Olympic Charter by incorporating four councils from eastern Ukraine last week.
The IOC Executive Board came to the decision to suspend the ROC immediately and indefinitely after Thursday’s meeting in which officials discussed the ROC’s “unilateral decision” to accept as members the councils in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia on Oct. 5.
The statement said the move “constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter because it violates the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in accordance with the Olympic Charter.”
As a result, the ROC can no longer operate as an NOC (national Olympic committee) and will no longer receive funding from the Olympic Movement.
IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said at a news conference that the decision will not “affect in any way the participation of independent athletes,” but it does not limit the IOC from banning all Russian athletes from the upcoming Olympic Games.
“[The IOC] reserves the right to decide about the participation of individual neutral athletes with a Russian passport in the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 at the appropriate time,” the IOC said.
Following the war in Ukraine, the IOC urged international sports bodies to bar Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition. Many did while others allowed them to compete under a neutral banner.
More than a year later, the IOC had been working to support a pathway to allow some of those athletes to qualify for Paris by competing as neutral, a recommendation made by the Olympic Council of Asia.
Russia and Belarus were not sent official invitations in July for the Paris Games as a formal decision about their participation had yet to be made. Thursday’s suspension could further complicate matters.
The ROC does have the ability to challenge the suspension in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.