The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday it will examine a proposal for athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus to resume competing in international sports events in Asia.
The move comes ahead of a packed calendar of qualifying events for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
The IOC recommended on February 28 — four days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began — that Russian and Belarusian athletes should be excluded from competition, citing concerns over safety and the integrity of competitions. Most Olympic sports followed its lead and imposed bans.
The Olympic Summit, a conference hosted by the IOC, agreed on Friday that it will “lead the further exploration” of an initiative from the Olympic Council of Asia to allow Russia and Belarus to compete there, according to a statement on the IOC website.
“The OCA offered to facilitate the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in competitions in Asia under its authority, while respecting the sanctions in place,” the statement said.
The IOC draws a distinction between what it calls “sanctions” such as preventing Russia from hosting sports events and displaying national symbols in competitions, and the “protective measures” of excluding Russian athletes.
Ukraine has objected to the decision to invite Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov to the conference. No representatives of Ukraine were on an attendance list published by the IOC.