Russian Wrestlers Refuse Olympic Invitation to Participate Under Neutral Flag

Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

The Russian Wrestling Federation on Friday turned down an invitation from the International Olympic Committee to participate in the Paris 2024 Olympics under a “neutral” banner, calling the committee’s decision “unsportsmanlike” and “Russophobic.”

“The unreasonable dictum from the International Olympic Committee has led this organization to define the athletes lineups, this [decision] is already too much,” President of the Russian Wrestling Federation Mikhail Mamiashvili told Russia’s state-owned news agency, TASS, of the IOC’s invite.

The IOC barred athletes from participating under the Russian banner in 2023 due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Politico. However, Russian athletes could still participate under the Individual Neutral Athletes banner, a move that the 10 eligible Russian wrestlers rejected, according to TASS.

“What is gymnastics without Irina Viner’s team, what is synchronized swimming without the students of Tatiana Pokrovskaya?” the statement continued, on the barring of Olympic athletes.

The federation added that the “Russophobes” who “intimidated” the IOC were “rubbing their hands” at the decision to bar Russian athletes.

Russian athletes were previously banned from competing under the banner of the Russian Federation for four years in 2019 after the World Anti-Doping Agency found that Russia doped athletes during the 2016 Sochi Olympics.

Russian teams were barred from using the Russian flag, playing the Russian national anthem or attributing their medals to the Russian Federation, but were allowed to compete under the Russian Olympic Committee banner.

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