BEIJING, May 7 (Xinhua) -- International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said on Saturday that IOC is working to help athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports return to international sports events.
In the IOC executive board meeting held in March, Bach noted the decision about whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete at next year's Paris Olympics will be taken "at the appropriate time".
Bach told Xinhua that they still need time to see how these recommendations are accepted and how they are respected. One of the recommendations, mentioned by Bach, means that the athletes from these two countries could take part in Paris Olympics with neutral status.
"Now we are undertaking all the efforts to accomplish the mission, offer of the Olympic Movement by having athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports back into the international competitions," Bach said.
"We are in a very close cooperation and exchange with the International Federations who at this moment are responsible for running their competitions, and we hope very much that this mission then can be accomplished under the conditions which have been established that the athletes from these two countries must take part in a neutral status, so that we can really unify the whole world with the few to the Olympic Games in Paris," he added.
Bach admitted that there is the risk of politicization about the decision but he insisted "any kind of boycott would only punish their own athletes".
"You know the statements of governments who want to decide the people who can participate in the Olympics, the international sports competition, and who not," he commented. "We have to be very firm that these decisions have to be taken by the responsible sports organizations."
"I see that the governments, it's their right to express their position," Bach said. "But that they also realize that any kind of boycott would only punish their own athletes and would deprive their people to be proud of their athletes of their Olympic performances." ■