The Executive Board of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) has approved to start a process for the reinstatement of athletes holding Russian or Belarusian passports as neutral athletes starting from 2024.

Under the terms of the approved process, which adhere to guidelines issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier this year, athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports will be required to obtain neutral licences as a precondition to register themselves to IFSC events from 2024.

The IFSC Executive Board decision was based on Task Force recommendations presented on 7 June, after reaffirming the support for the Ukrainian athletes, and the principles of the separation of sport and politics, as well as of all athletes being able to compete.

The Task Force was appointed by the Executive Board on 10 May this year and composed of the President of the Oceania Council Naomi Cleary, the President of the Athletes’ Commission Shauna Coxsey, and the IFSC Research & Development Director Silvia Verdolini.

Upon presenting the report, Cleary said: “The Task Force considered it vital to find practical solutions to the concerns raised by athletes, National Federations and event organisers through a broad consultation process.”

The recommendations followed a monthlong consultation period during which meetings were held with the IFSC Athletes’ Commission and a broad assortment of stakeholders, including representatives of the IOC, major event organisers, anti-doping organisations, the European Council, intelligence and investigative providers, and the Ukrainian Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UMCF).

IFSC Athletes’ Commission and IFSC National Federations were informed of the decision during a conference call last week.

“The decision to initiate the process of reinstating athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports was not an easy one and was not taken lightly,” said IFSC President Marco Scolaris. “Without hesitation, I say that the IFSC remains firm condemning the Russian aggression to Ukraine and continues to stand by our Ukrainian National Federation and climbers, and the Ukrainian people.

“At the same time, we consider the mission of sport and the politicisation of the athletes. We believe in the values of Olympism and inclusion, but we listen to the pressures of many governments. We are also aware that – tragically – more than one hundred armed conflicts are more or less raging around the globe.

“Therefore, we tried to find a balance between the different positions and create a system which can be implemented fairly in the future also for conflicts in different areas”.

The IFSC has supported the UMCF in various ways, including by waiving its 2022 and 2023 annual fees as well as the 2022 and 2023 registration fees for all IFSC events in accordance with IFSC Europe. In addition, the Federation has made its best efforts to facilitate Ukrainian athletes’ participation in IFSC competitions.

While the start of the process for the reinstatement of athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports has been approved, the decision taken by the IFSC General Assembly on 18 March 2022, establishing the suspension of Climbing Federation of Russia and Belarus Alpine Federation remains in place.

Other provisions are still enforced, including:

  • No athlete will be able to represent Russia or Belarus;
  • No flag, anthem, colours, or any other identifications whatsoever of these countries will be displayed at any sports event or meeting, including the entire venue;
  • No Russian or Belarusian government or state official can be invited to or accredited for any international sports event or meeting;
  • No international sports event will be organised or supported by an IF or NOC in Russia or Belarus; and
  • Officials, including routesetters and judges, with Russian or Belarusian passports will remain suspended.

Regarding the medical controls, the IFSC considers having sufficient time to implement a risk-based approach to the resumption of anti-doping. Further details and regulations as well as a clear timeline for the reinstatement will be released in due course. This includes details on athlete selection and registration, as well as regulations pertaining to youth category athletes.

IFSC Press Release

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