Statement regarding the COC’s position on Russian and Belarusian athletes

TORONTO (March 9, 2023) – The Canadian Olympic Committee issued the following statement in response to the broadcast of CBC’s The National on Wednesday March 8th:

It was reported on CBC’s The National that several prominent athletes are calling on the Canadian Olympic Committee to support a ban of athletes from Russia and Belarus competing in Paris 2024 while the invasion is ongoing. 

We confirm that is the Canadian Olympic Committee’s position and has been since Russia and Belarus invaded Ukraine in 2022.

We were also called upon to support the position of the Government of Canada, which is found here, and was released with 34 other like-minded governments.

We confirm that we support and share this position with the Government of Canada

Below is the full statement we shared with CBC’s The National in response to their request for comment, only parts of which were shared during the broadcast.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) stands in solidarity with Ukraine and, aligned with the Government of Canada and international community, condemns the Russian and Belarusian invasion of Ukraine.

We value the opinions and concerns raised by the athletes in today’s letter and offered to speak with several of the signatories numerous times over the past month to discuss their views and clarify our position, including at a special meeting of the COC Board of Directors convened for that purpose.

Our position, consistent over the past year, is that we support the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from international sport while the invasion is ongoing. 

This is aligned with the recent statement, signed by Canada and more than 30 other Nations, that call for the continuation of the ban in the absence of clarity and concrete details on a workable neutrality model. – Canadian Olympic Committee

As mentioned in the statement above, we offered to host a special meeting with the COC Board of Directors and the athlete signatories of the letter, for the express purpose of having the dialogue that was asked for on last night’s broadcast. Our requests for dialogue, which began in early February, have so far been turned down, but the door remains open. 

We feel it is extremely important to reinforce that strong and diverse athlete voices will always be welcome and encouraged at the COC.

The COC remains steadfast in our commitment and support for Canadian athletes training for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

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Peter​ Saltsman, Senior Manager, Public Relations
Canadian Olympic Committee
C: 647-382-6986

Thomas Hall, Director, Communications and Media Relations
Canadian Olympic Committee
C: 514-709-1054

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