Due to the war in Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has further distanced itself from Russia and its ally Belarus.

For the first time since the invasion of Ukraine almost two months ago, the rings organisation described both countries as the aggressors in the conflict. Previously, the IOC had only lamented and condemned the “breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government”.

In a statement on the joint visit of IOC President Thomas Bach with Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadim Guttsait and Ukrainian IOC member Sergei Bubka to athletes from Ukraine training in Switzerland, the IOC described the war as a result of “the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army with the support of Belarus”.

On the currently much-discussed question of further sanctions against its Russian members Yelena Issinbayeva and Shamil Tarpichev, such as a suspension, on the other hand, Bach’s only position was that “the IOC supports measures against anyone in the Olympic community who supports war”.

The IOC has been under pressure for several days over its inaction against former world-class pole vaulter Issinbayeva and Russia’s tennis federation president Tarpichev. Bach and the IOC leadership are facing accusations of double standards for their call to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from all international competitions shortly after the war broke out.

Most recently, an attempt by the IOC to justify itself on this issue by referring to the Olympic Charter did not have the desired effect. The IOC had stated that its members in the IOC would not act as representatives of their countries of origin, but were rather delegated as ambassadors of the IOC to their home countries. This position earned the IOC incomprehension worldwide.