Seb Coe: “You may see athletes in Paris. They just won’t be in athletics” – AW

    World Athletics president says the global track and field governing body will not budge when it comes to allowing Russians and Belarusians back into the sport

    Seb Coe insists World Athletics will not lift its ban on Russian and Belarus athletes despite the International Olympic Committee this week announcing that sportsmen and women from those two nations will now be allowed to compete at the Paris Olympics as long as they have not supported the war in Ukraine.

    “You may well see some neutral athletes from Russia and Belarus in Paris, but they just won’t be in from athletics,” said World Athletics president Coe, who was speaking at the end of a two-day World Athletics council meeting in Monaco. “The position our sport took – and has consistently taken – on this is unchanged.”

    He added: “We have a fixed position and that’s not altered and I think it’s right that international federations should make judgements that they feel are in the best interests of their sport and that’s what our council has done.

    “Ours is a settled position. We’ve made the judgement that there will be no fully fledged or even neutral status athletes there.”

    At the moment only 12 Russian and six Belarusian athletes have Olympic standards for Paris with their leading medal contenders being high jumpers Mariya Lasitskene and Danil Lysenko plus pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidirova.

    Mariya Lasitskene (Mark Shearman)

    The IOC has controversially decided that people who qualify in individual sports will have to compete as “neutral” athletes in Paris – with no flags, emblems or anthems. What’s more, Russian and Belarusian teams will remain banned.

    Coe also gave short shrift to the idea of a ‘friendship games’ being held next year in Russia. “I’m not getting too excited about that,” he said. “It doesn’t really fit within our own values and competitions structures. There also isn’t much room for it in an already complex and complicated calendar.”

    This week the World Athletics Council also confirmed the members of a Working Group, to be chaired by Francis Dodoo, on the status of Russians and Belarusians in international events.

    In other news from Coe’s press conference…

    » Looking back at the World Champs in Budapest, Coe described it as “a first-rate event that left stakeholders and fans in no doubt that athletics is a sport that is punching its weight and on the move”.

    » The World Athletics Council approved the establishment of a World Plan Implementation Taskforce, to be chaired by former triple jumper Willie Banks, to build on the milestones achieved in the World Plan for Athletics 2022-2030 and continue to build on this momentum.

    » Despite the World Cross Country Championships moving to February recently – and reverting to March 30 in 2024 following the change of venue from Croatia to Serbia – the 2026 event in Tallahassee will be on the early date of January 10.

    » The 2025 World Road Running Championships in San Diego, meanwhile, will be on September 26-28 (slightly earlier than this year’s event in Riga) after athletes told World Athletics they wanted to finish their season as soon as possible.

    Women’s 5km start (World Athletics)

    » Seeding for the first round of relays at the Paris Olympics will be determined at the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas on May 4-5.

    » Looking forward, Coe added: “The year 2024 is going to be one of change. In a decade from now, I want people to look back at 2024 and say the decisions the sport made that year not only future proofed athletics, but significantly accelerated its popularity and value.”

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