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Sport Climbing-Russian, Belarus athletes to compete in sport climbing from 2024

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(Reuters) – The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) is to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in its competitions from 2024, paving the way for their appearance at the Olympic Games in Paris, officials confirmed on Monday.

IFSC banned athletes from the two countries in March 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and upheld their suspension at the organisation’s general assembly in Singapore in April this year.

A task force was set up to assess the merits of the inclusion, or not, of the athletes, which has recommended the IFSC follow the guidelines issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier this year.

This follows a month-long process of consultation with the IFSC Athletes’ Commission, IOC, the European Council, intelligence and investigative providers, and the Ukrainian Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UMCF).

“The decision to initiate the process of reinstating athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports was not an easy one and was not taken lightly,” IFSC President Marco Scolaris said in a statement.

“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.”

The IOC guidelines include that Russian and Belarusian athletes must compete with no flag or anthem, while those who support the war or are contracted to military or national security agencies are excluded.

The IFSC confirmed the Climbing Federation of Russia and Belarus Alpine Federation remains suspended.

The Climbing World Championships were held in Moscow in 2021 and Russia leads the all-time medals table with 53, almost double that of second-placed Austria (27), though none of their three athletes competing for the Russian Olympic Committee placed for a medal at the last Olympics in Tokyo.

The next World Championships will be staged in Bern from Aug. 1-12 this year.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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