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IOC Calls for Belarus, Russia Ban From Sporting Events 


FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2014, photo, the Russian national flag, right, flies next to the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The International Olympic Committee has recommended that athletes and officials representing Belarus and Russia be barred from participating in upcoming sporting events, following Moscow's recent invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement Monday, the IOC's executive board said the recommendation was necessary to "protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants."

The Russian Olympic Committee voiced disagreement, saying the decision "contradicts both the regulatory documents of the IOC and the (Olympic) Charter."

Russia invaded Ukraine last week. The government in Minsk, Belarus, has allowed Moscow to use Belarusian soil as a staging ground to strike at Ukraine from the north.

The IOC board's recommendation comes four days before the start of the Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

The IOC ban is not total. When exclusion is not possible because of short notice or legal reasons, the IOC has strongly recommended that Belarusian and Russian athletes compete under no flag, anthem or symbol.

The movement known as Global Athlete said on Twitter that the IOC statement "falls short" and that the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) "needs to immediately suspend the Russian and Belarus Paralympic Committees."

The IOC recommendation also cited the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government. According to The Associated Press, the truce began "seven days before the start of the Olympic Games," on February 4. It will end "seven days after the closing of the Paralympic Games" on March 13. The truce's purpose, according to AP, is to ensure athletes' safety and generally promote world peace.

The IOC has also withdrawn a top honor, known as the Olympic Order, that had been awarded to President Vladimir Putin in 2001 and two other Russian officials.

Separately, the FIFA and UEFA football associations on Monday suspended Russian teams from FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice." A statement went on to say that "football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine."

Reports say the decision means Russia is out of the World Cup football (soccer) tournament scheduled to take place later this year in Qatar.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. VOA correspondent Jamie Dettmer also contributed to this report.

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